It has been three years since Denver and Pittsburgh faced each other. Many new faces are on the Denver Broncos since that last meeting.
From the 2015 season, nine of the 13 players that remain on the 2018 Denver Broncos roster are starters: Emmanuel Sanders, Matt Paradis (injured reserve), Chris Harris Jr, Bradley Roby, Derek Wolfe, Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, Darian Stewart, and Brandon McManus.
Malik Jackson, TJ Ward, Aqib Talib, Danny Trevathan, Sylvester Williams. All of those players were stars for the Broncos defense during their Super Bowl run. All of them except Ward are currently on another NFL roster.
They also had a former Broncos quarterback as head coach in Gary Kubiak, who unfortunately had to step down as the coach of the Broncos after the Super Bowl 50 victory.
Denver had a Hall Of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning, until he had to miss multiple games due to injury. 2015 was Manning’s worst statistical season. He played in just nine games, throwing for 2,249 yards, nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in the regular season.
Running back Ronnie Hillman ran for 863 yards and seven touchdowns. Wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders combined for 181 receptions for 2,439 yards and twelve touchdowns.
Linebacker Von Miller had 11 of Denver’s 52 season team sacks, leading the Broncos.
During their Super Bowl run, the Broncos went 12-4 during the regular season. Their first opponent of the 2015-season (2016 calendar year) divisional round of the playoffs was the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Denver was a seven-point underdog to the Steelers for the game. They won by that many, 23-16.
Peyton Manning was 21-of-37 for 222 yards. He did not throw a touchdown nor an interception during the game. The Steelers defense sacked Manning just once, while the Denver Broncos got to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger three times.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was facing his old team. He caught five passes for 85 yards. Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant led Pittsburgh with 9 receptions for 154 yards.
Steelers wideout Antonio Brown did not play in the game. Neither did running back Le’Veon Bell.
On defense, cornerback Chris Harris Jr made four tackles and had one pass defensed.
Denver’s Team Stats:
First Downs: 19
Rushing First Downs: 6
Passing First Downs: 12
First Downs off Penalties: 1
Rushing Yards: 109 of 33 rushing attempts.
Passing Yards: 21 of 37 for 222 yards.
Net Passing Yards: 215
Linebacker Danny Trevathan led the Broncos with nine tackles while Derek Wolfe, Antonio Smith and DeMarcus Ware had the team’s three sacks on Roethlisberger.
While Denver scored just one touchdown in the entire game, it was Kicker Brandon McManus who scored the most points: he connected on all five of his field goal attempts, for 15 points.
Now, the Denver Broncos are rolling with Case Keenum at quarterback, Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman at running back, and with Demaryius Thomas no longer on the team, Emmanuel Sanders takes over as the team’s top wide receiver.
Denver had a stellar rookie draft class in 2018: Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton, Daesean Hamilton, Royce Freeman, among others. They now have a great undrafted rookie in running back Phillip Lindsay, who I strongly believe is the star of this offense in 2018.
I recently provided keys to a Denver Broncos victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lindsay is going to have to be a big part of the offense Sunday if the Broncos are going to beat Pittsburgh.
While the Denver Broncos are quite a bit different from their 2015 Super Bowl team, there is still some carryover from the squad into 2018, primarily on defense. Those players have proven to be very important to the team as their careers have progressed.