It was bad and you know it. The secondary of the Pittsburgh Steelers was being carved up easier than a Thanksgiving turkey and the guy with the knife wasn’t Peyton Manning. It was Brock Osweiler who in the first half looked like every bit the part of master surgeon doing detailed surgery.
It was in fact death by a thousand cuts and Osweiler was wielding the blade but then something happened. Down 27-13, the Steelers went into the locker room at halftime and any number of things happened.
A rousing speech by Joey Porter along with some veteran players and a brave move by Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler and the next thing you know the Steelers were grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat. If last week were the type of game that proves just how tough your team is then this week proved how resilient it can be.
The Steelers went on to outscore the Denver Broncos 21-0 in the second half en route to the 34-27 win in the team’s final home game of 2015. There were some outstanding performances on this night and most of those were on the offensive side.
Antonio Brown grabbed 16 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns in a masterful performance against a Denver defense that had no answer for him. Ben Roethlisberger was excellent (sans one horrible decision) as he went 40 of 55 for 380 yards and three touchdowns while Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton each contributed big catches.
As great as the offense was (sixth straight game of 30+ points), the defense became the story.
After getting beaten on play after play after play Keith Butler had clearly seen enough. The Steelers went to more man to man coverage in the second half than I can remember and it paid off big time. Osweiler, who was nursing a bad non-throwing shoulder, looked nothing like the QB who torched the Steelers in the first half.
The change in the secondary was confusing him and his throws weren’t anywhere as accurate as they had been in the first. Maybe it was the injury, maybe it was some added pressure and maybe it was the switch that Butler just had to make. The move to more man coverage wasn’t on every play but it didn’t need to be.
Butler had shown it and the secondary, with the insertion of Brandon Boykin, lived up to Butler’s expectations. With two very winnable games remaining, the Steelers appear to be playoff bound. After today, they have proved that they are capable of anything.