Broncos lose to Steelers, doubt creeping in?


The Denver Broncos dropped their second straight game and their fourth of the season on Sunday, sending a massive wave of doubt into Broncos country…

It’s been a real grind to find the right words to type about this Denver Broncos team. Either excusing a loss or justifying a victory, this season has been one of the most frustrating in recent memory, the latest chapter coming on Sunday at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their stellar offense.

The Broncos’ defense was missing parts, sure, but it was the Steelers imposing their will in the second half and the Broncos’ lack of an ability to do really anything in the second half that was absolutely sickening to me.

Let’s see if I can wrap my mind around what happened on Sunday…

First Half

It’s easy to do, but we can’t forget about the first half. I don’t know what got into the Broncos, but after their last three or four games, a four-touchdown explosion in the first half was something I both didn’t expect and didn’t believe could actually happen.

Brock Osweiler threw three touchdown passes and ran for another while also finding a way to get Emmanuel Sanders involved heavily in the offense. That is a piece that has been missing since Osweiler came into the starting lineup.

It was, like the Raiders game, an easy going first half with plays being made on both sides of the ball. Sure, the Broncos gave up 13 points but they also had to overcome a terrible turnover by Ronnie Hillman on their first possession and then exploded for four touchdowns while holding the Steelers to just two field goals after that.

A missed extra point by Brandon McManus was the only ‘bad’ thing to happen in the entire first half save for the fumble by Ronnie Hillman, which was quickly forgotten when Osweiler started wheeling and dealing.

Second Half

When the second half opened up, the Broncos opened up with a predictable set of plays and a three-and-out, trotting out Britton Colquitt for the first time. He hadn’t seen the field as a punter in the first half thanks to the Broncos converting on 8-of-8 third down attempts, but trotted out seemingly every possession in the second half.

He was terrible, as usual, and the Broncos continue to somehow ignore that fact.

As the Steelers continued to creep in the game, Chris Harris Jr. continued to struggle with Antonio Brown, who became more and more impossible to stop. Brown had another huge game which isn’t abnormal for him, but Harris surrendered his first touchdown since 2014 and was just owned by Brown in the second half of this game.

The way the Steelers were able to come back and take the lead after the Broncos had a 27-13 halftime lead was embarrassing, and the defense — despite its short-comings in the second half — came up with a huge play at the end like they always do, an interception by Brandon Marshall setting up the Denver offense with great field position and a chance to tie the game with 2:01 left to play.

Except unlike against New England, there would be no magic. Brock Osweiler and the offense were unable to even move the ball a yard with their newfound opportunity, and on fourth down, they turned it back over to the Steelers who were able to run out the clock.


This type of game makes me hate football, but if you’re patient you have to also remember that as good as the Broncos’ roster is, they are still trying to break in a brand new quarterback, someone who has now five career starts under his belt. Osweiler was perfect in the first half, accounting for four touchdowns, so what happened in the second half?

Did the Broncos get soft?

Did Gary Kubiak just decide 27 points was enough for his team in this type of a game?

I don’t know exactly what happened, but for yet another game, the Broncos, failed to make second half adjustments and/or improvements and it cost them in a desperate way.

Now, the Broncos lead the AFC West by just one game with two to play, and they don’t own the tie-breaker over the Chiefs. Forget about clinching scenarios and home field advantage, a team that was atop the AFC for a slight moment two Sundays ago is now in serious danger of not even making the playoffs.

You didn’t read that wrong.

If the Broncos can’t find a way to win one of their last two games here against the Bengals and Chargers, they might seriously miss the playoffs.

At 10-4, the Broncos are seemingly one of the most complacent teams in the league, and while Kansas City has ripped off eight straight wins, the Broncos are still struggling to find an identity. They can’t run the ball, they are inconsistent on special teams, and the defense has now blown two straight second half leads, regardless of whose fault it is.

The heartbreak fans are already feeling this season is mounting, and doubt is creeping in. I still am excited to see how everything finishes out for the Broncos this season, but maybe I shouldn’t be…