If you’re anything like me, you found yourself staring at the replay of Tim Tebow’s 80 yard game winning touchdown pass following the most improbable of playoff victories in utter disbelief. I’m still not completely over the shock of watching the Pittsburgh Steelers, the best defense in the league, getting torched by none other than Tim Tebow.
Now that I’ve been able to sleep it off, I’m ready to explain the unexplainable. Let me first apologize to any Tim Tebow and/or Denver Broncos supporter. I said that the Broncos had no chance against the Steelers. Clearly I was off base. They had virtually no chance, but they made it happen none-the-less. Hats off to the Broncos.
So where did it all go wrong? Did the Broncos flat out beat the Steelers, or did the Steelers shoot their own feet off? Well, as with all things worth explaining, the answer isn’t exactly clear cut.
Before we start calling Tim Tebow the next John Elway in Denver, let’s take a dose of reality. He was 10 of 21 with 316 yards and 2 touchdowns. That’s a huge passing game, but he didn’t complete 50% of his passes. Tebow made up for inaccuracy and inconsistency by hitting it big when he did connect with a receiver, and the 80 yard game winner was the cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the upset sundae.
I haven’t yet re-watched Sunday’s game, but I have some very distinct impressions from the game. First of all, the Steelers’ defense was crippled by the injuries to Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton. Once those two guys were out, the Steelers weren’t able to get any pressure from their linebackers to speak of. The Broncos were able to effectively stuff the Steelers’ pass rush without keeping in too many extra blockers.
Once the pass rush stopped, Troy Polamalu wasn’t able to roam and make the big plays we’re used to seeing him make. Ryan Clark was also absent from the game because of a rare blood condition that prevents him from over-exerting himself in high altitude areas, such as Denver, Colorado.
Despite all of the problems the Steelers’ defense weathered throughout Sunday’s wildcard matchup, the root of their problems was on offense in the second quarter. Once the Broncos scored their first touchdown, the Steelers struggled to get their feet back under themselves. Whether it was an interception or just not staying on the field long enough to give their defense a break, the Steelers couldn’t seem to buy their defense any time or field position.
In its truest form, this was one game. The Broncos were able to make big plays when it counted, and they kept their heads despite a late Steelers’ rally. All the credit in the world goes to the Broncos coaches and receivers. They helped their young quarterback out with a great game plan, and the Broncos’ receivers were running wild in the Steelers’ secondary. The Steelers had plenty of opportunities to make plays, and they couldn’t do it, largely do to the defensive effort of the Broncos. At the end of the day, it’s the Broncos moving on and that’s all that matters.