Steelers at Broncos: Searching for a Glimmer of Hope
Limping into #1 seed Denver with a battered offense, seemingly all odds are against the Steelers this Sunday versus the Broncos.
Next man up. Keep fighting. We play as a team. The standard is the standard.
The rhetoric is as stale as a year-old box of cereal, but there’s no expiration date for Mike Tomlin’s attitude. No matter how thrilling or heartbreaking things have gotten for the 2015 Steelers, the team has stuck to the script. Against the Broncos, the plan isn’t going to waver.
It’s hard to enter this Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff with much optimism. The Steelers officially ruled out both Antonio Brown (concussion) and DeAngelo Williams (ankle) from the game. Ben Roethlisberger, in spite of multiple shoulder injuries, is slated to start. Ben would rather throw passes from a wheelchair than watch from the sidelines.
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Denver’s bye during last week’s Wild Card round only adds to the trouble. Freshly rested, the Broncos are set to have starting safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart back, both of whom missed the week fifteen contest between these teams. The Broncos’ official injury report lists nearly every player as probable, many of them being defensive standouts.
Put simply, the football math adds up in favor of the Broncos. Analysts across the media spectrum are choosing Denver to advance. The injuries are just too much for the Steelers to overcome. Brady-Manning will determine the AFC champion once again.
Oddly enough, the words above are exactly the glimmer of hope Pittsburgh needs.
Fully reviewing this season’s myriad of craziness would take hours. Injury after injury, close wins followed by close losses, the Meltdown at Paul Brown – these Steelers have been through it all. Pittsburgh’s ship may be broken, but it’s still sailing.
The Steelers, for all their faults, have one trait that bonds them like no other: resiliency. Even in the face of constant adversity, the Steelers have persevered. This team was written off as dead in mid-October after a cluster of injuries. They were given a collective eulogy following week sixteen’s collapse in Baltimore. And yet, here they are.
Resiliency is what separates the good teams from the great, the perennial hopefuls from the established champions. The Steelers absorb their resiliency from – guess who – their head coach.
Tomlin’s rhetoric is stale, sure. But it connects with his players, especially when circumstances aren’t looking good. Look no further than this same matchup a month ago, when the Steelers stampeded back from a two-possession halftime deficit to win 34-27.
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Will the defense pressure Peyton Manning into turnovers? Will the offense be able to move without Antonio Brown? Will the team remain calm on the road?
Sunday will tell if these Steelers are ready to take the next step. Based on everything that’s transpired this year, though, losing faith in this team is not an option.