Outakes: Steelers Defeat Broncos in AFC Championship, Head to Super Bowl XL

Founded in 2008, Steel Curtain Rising existed before then, but on email. Now you can enjoy these Outtakes.”

One for the Thumb.”

In the 26 years after Joe Greene threw down the gauntlet for the rest of the franchise, five times before the Steelers have stood on the door step, only to fall short. 4 of those times we were unable to open the door, and the one time we did get it open, Neil O’Donnell allowed Larry Brown to shut it for us in Super Bowl XXX.

  • The Steelers once again opened the door, and we did it in compelling fashion.

While today’s game might have lacked the suspense of the AFC divisional victory over the Colts, we made up for it in ingenuity. I really have to give credit to Bill Cowher for keeping the boys mean and hungry, and I give supreme credit to Ken Whisenhunt for coming out with a brilliant game plan. I don’t know how many coaching vacancies are left, but Steelers fans had better enjoy Whisenhunt while we can.

Jerome Bettis, Steelers vs. Broncos, Steelers broncos AFC Championship,

Jerome Bettis plunges ahead in Steelers AFC Championship game against the Broncos. Photo Credit: Behind the Steel Curtain

I don’t know that I have ever seen the Steelers come out and call a better game on offense. Not only did we call the right play at the right time, but we executed. To be sure, the Steelers got a few breaks (Hines Ward turning a would be Champ Bailey int/TD into a receptions. Neither of Willie Parker’s fumbles costing this,) but that’s all part of the game. The fact the so many people had a piece of the ball says it all. Hines Ward, Cedric Wilson, Jerome Bettis, and Ben Roethlisberger got TD’s. Heath Miller didn’t get a TD, but he was there when the Steelers needed him.

Aside from executing a well-devised game plan, the Steelers took advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves. 10 of those 24 first half points came directly off of turnovers. Which is to say that we started 24-3 instead of 14 to three. And make no mistake about it. Getting up a lead prevented Denver from running the ball on us, and they had shown some ability to do that early in the game.

I also credit the defense.

  • For once, Phil Simms is right about the Steelers, Pittsburgh’s defensive backs can cover.

Although we did get into Jake Plummer’s face when it was important, there were also a number of times when he had loads of time to throw, and couldn’t find anyone open. One of the telling stats is that Plummer had so little success throwing long down the field. (And to think, a lot of people cited our weakness vs. the deep ball. Well, today that wasn’t a weakness.)

All in all, the Steelers played a hell of a game. They had a great game plan, they executed, and they stayed focused, with the one exception of the Bronco’s only TD drive where we gave them 31 yards on penalties. We also prevented them from getting momentum. When they had the run back to the 40, we got the ball back on the very next play.

Credit the Broncos. They didn’t fold up and quit, when they could have. They stuffed our running game (yes, I did think our play calling got a little conservative, but we did move the chains and eat up the clock.)
The Steelers fought long and hard to get here.

  • Few people thought the Steelers would be here after the Bengals game.

But I credit coach Cowher for bringing the boys back to basics (putting on full pads for practice clearly did the trick). Cowher kept this team focused, he brought us back to our physical identity, and that got us to the playoffs. Then we unleashed what shouldn’t have been our secret weapon. Big Ben Roethlisberger.

The decisive edge through the playoffs thus far has been that we have had a quarterback that can be a difference maker. And what a difference he has made.

  • It’s been a hell of a ride thus far, and folks, it ain’t over yet!

Enjoy it.

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