The Denver Broncos will face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round next Sunday as the Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night. The Broncos will have a chance to avenge their regular season loss…
If the Broncos wanted to take a path of revenge in the playoffs, it’s been set up perfectly with the victories of the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Since the Steelers and Chiefs won, it means Pittsburgh now gets to come to Denver to face the Broncos after their regular season game in Pittsburgh a few weeks back ended in an incredibly disappointing loss for the Broncos.
The Broncos’ 34-27 loss against Pittsburgh came after Denver led 27-13 at halftime, and was inarguably the defense’s worst performance of the season. Antonio Brown was unstoppable, and Chris Harris Jr. was hard on himself after the game for it, but it didn’t end there. The Steelers could seemingly move the ball at will through the air in the second half of that game, which is nearly inexplicable considering the Broncos have the top ranked defense in the league.
Injuries at that point had mounted, key players weren’t on the field, but really there are no excuses. The Broncos had their top dogs at cornerback on the field, and it wasn’t enough. The Steelers beat a straight man-to-man defense by the Broncos pretty much the whole game, and the pass rush disappeared in the second half.
The Broncos can avenge that loss with a victory next Sunday afternoon against Ben Roethlisberger and company, but they can avenge much more than that if they can use this game as the first stepping stone on a path to a Super Bowl victory. The Broncos beat the Steelers the last time they faced off in the playoffs, but 10 years ago they were beaten in the AFC Championship game by Roethlisberger and the eventual Super Bowl champions.
That loss has stung in Denver for the better part of those 10 years, simply because it felt like the first real chance this team had since losing John Elway of potentially winning a Super Bowl. At that point, Jake Plummer was the team’s quarterback and — you guessed it — Gary Kubiak the offensive coordinator.
With Kubiak now the head coach of the Broncos and Peyton Manning the quarterback, this is a great first test for the Broncos in the postseason, on their road to a potential Super Bowl championship. Of all three of the other teams remaining in the AFC, the Broncos have played them all this season. They know what to expect, in a manner of speaking.
This time around, the Steelers will get a Broncos team with a healthy Peyton Manning, although Brock Osweiler carved them up in the first half of the first meeting. They will get a Broncos team with T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart, as opposed to David Bruton Jr. and Josh Bush.
They will get a Broncos team that is ready for some revenge from that early-season loss.