Here is a look at the things that cost the Pittsburgh Steelers the game against the Denver Broncos.
Normally, this post is “what went wrong/right?” Not this week. This week, there is no next week. After a heartbreaking loss to the AFC’s top seed, the embattled Pittsburgh Steelers are heading home after a tough 2015 campaign.
Much of the blame for the Steelers’ loss has centered around one play: Fitzgerald Toussaint‘s fourth quarter fumble.
Toussaint’s miscue certainly halted a productive drive and served to shift momentum back to the Broncos. However, the fumble was one of many factors in the game’s outcome.
The problems started immediately.
In the first quarter, the Steelers all but handed the Broncos six points. Two Denver drives started in or around field goal territory thanks to poor punts and punt coverage.
Special teams were shaky all night for the Steelers. Markus Wheaton muffed two punts and came close to dropping a third. Jordan Berry was affected by the windy conditions and had mostly terrible punts.
On the road and in the playoffs, special teams can often be the deciding factor in close games. There were other issues at play, but the special teams battle went to the Broncos.
While the defense played well all night, they caved in the fourth quarter when they needed a stop. Instead of a stop, the Broncos marched down the field for nearly seven minutes and scored a touchdown to take the lead.
While the Steelers held the Broncos in check most of the night and had bailed the special teams out on a few occasions, they were unable to bail out the offense after a costly turnover.
Yet, the Steelers’ record-setting, world-beating offense would have a whole three minutes plus their times outs to respond. They fell short too.
This was a tough game in a hostile environment. While there is no excuse for the fumble, the Steelers had a chance to win the game with their defense, and then with their offense.
Sure, injuries were a factor, but the players on the field Sunday had a chance to beat the Broncos and advance to the AFC championship game. Those players didn’t come through.