Playoff History: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos mascot Miles celebrates the win over the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos mascot Miles celebrates the win over the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

One of my favorite things to hear is “Game day in the Mile High City”!  Get ready Broncos Country – we get to watch playoff football in the Rocky Mountains once again.  Today the Pittsburgh Steelers visit Denver to face the Denver Broncos in an AFC Divisional Playoff – the winner will face the New England Patriots next week.  Over the years, Denver has been the site of five playoff games between the Steelers and Broncos.  For a brief recap of those games, please continue reading.

December 24, 1977 – AFC Divisional Playoff (Denver 34 / Pittsburgh 21)

What better Christmas present could a Bronco fan ask for than the Broncos very first playoff victory?  Following a 12-2 season that saw the Broncos win their first divisional championship, the Broncos hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers on Christmas Eve.  Tied at 14 after two quarters, Bronco quarterback Craig Morton excited the fans with two touchdown passes – the first one 30-yards to Riley Odoms and the second pass, 34-yards to Jack Dolbin.  The final touchdown pass occurred in the final quarter and increased the Broncos six point lead to thirteen, basically securing the win.

December 30, 1984 – AFC Divisional Playoff (Denver 17 / Pittsburgh 24)

Behind a 21-yard Rich Karlis field goal and a 20-yard John Elway to Steve Watson touchdown pass in the third quarter, the Broncos took 17-10 lead.  Before the end of the quarter the Steelers were able to tie it at 17 behind a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mark Malone to Louis Lipps.  The Steelers scored the game winner in the fourth quarter when Frank Pollard scored on a 2-yard rushing touchdown.

January 7, 1990 – AFC Divisional Playoff (Denver 24 / Pittsburgh 23)

Mile High Magic was in full force this day, as a late Steelers fumble, sent the Broncos to the AFC Championship for the third time in four years.  The Steelers had a touchdown lead at halftime that was quickly erased two minutes into the third quarter; following a Pittsburgh fumble, John Elway connected with Vance Johnson for a 37-yard touchdown pass tieing the game at 17.  The Steelers added a field goal in the third and fourth quarters that gave them a six-point lead.  With just over seven minutes remaining in the game the Broncos got the ball back on their own 29-yard line.  Elway led the Broncos on a 71-yard drive that was capped off by Mel Bratton’s second one-yard touchdown run of the day.  The Steelers had one last chance but that came to an end when Bubby Brister was unable to handle the snap on 3 & 10; the Broncos recovered the fumble, securing the win and sending the fans at Mile High into a frenzy!

January 22, 2006 – AFC Championship (Denver 17 / Pittsburgh 34)

As a die-hard Bronco fan, I would like to say that no team could come to Denver and manhandle the Broncos EVER, but the Pittsburgh Steelers did it on this day – maybe it was payback when the Broncos traveled to Pittsburgh following the 1997 season and beat Pittsburgh to advance to Super Bowl XXXII.  The Steelers made it look easy and it appeared that the Broncos were really never in this game.  At halftime the Steelers had a comfortable 24-3 lead and from that point on,  the Broncos really never did anything to get back in the game.  The large number of Steeler fans went home extremely pleased as Ben Roethlisber finished the day 21-29 for 275 yards and two touchdowns; Bronco fans went home disappointed as the season came to an end.  Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer finished the day 18-30 for 223 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  Two weeks later the Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl championship.

January 8, 2012 – AFC Wildcard (Denver 29 / Pittsburgh 23 OT)

This being the most recent playoff game between Pittsburgh and Denver, most Bronco fans will no doubt remember how this game ended.  Tied 23-23, the game went into overtime and the Broncos won the coin toss.  The NFL had implemented new playoff rules in the 2011 season that allowed both teams to have a possession in overtime as long as the team that had the ball first in OT didn’t score a touchdown; if that occurred, the game was over.  To say that overtime was short-lived is definitely an understatement – on the first play of the extra session, Tim Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas in stride who went ahead and scored, ending the game in dramatic fashion.  The win sent the Broncos to the divisional round against the New England Patriots.

Next: Three Thoughts on the Broncos-Steelers matchup

Go Broncos – beat Pittsburgh!