DENVER (93-7 THE FAN) — What most will take from the Steelers’ 31-19 season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium Sunday is that new quarterback Peyton Manning showed Mike Tomlin he’s still Peyton Manning.
Specifically, the Steelers’ head coach lamented after the game, Manning, who finished 19-of-26 for 253 yards and two scores, was able to keep Pittsburgh’s defense off balance much of the night with his no-huddle approach.
The Steelers built leads of 3-0, 13-7, and 19-14 that were erased by the Broncos on their ensuing drives.
“We just didn’t make significant plays…third-down type plays that get you off the field,” Tomlin said of his defense Sunday. “I thought, in the second half, that [Denver] made significant plays down the stretch, really, in all three phases.”
Tomlin referred to Manning’s success on third down as a key factor. The Broncos converted five of nine third-down plays (56%), though the Steelers, led by Ben Roethlisberger, actually performed a hair better in that department, going 11-of-19 (58%).
Roethlisberger also worked without a huddle at several points, completing 22 of 40 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. The strategy led to a Heath Miller grab that gave Pittsburgh the lead right before halftime, but it also led to a Tracy Porter pick-six that sealed the loss.
“We had planned to do that–not specifically how it unfolded, but game circumstances change sometimes,” Tomlin explained. “I was comfortable with the no-huddle attack, and what we were doing in it. Like I said earlier, there just weren’t enough significant plays made down the stretch.”
Check out Tomlin’s full post-game remarks:
Manning is now 7-1 lifetime against Hall-of-Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, with the lone defeat coming in a memorable 2005 AFC Divisional Playoff game en route to Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl XL victory. Roethlisberger, including Sunday, has taken the loss in three of those seven Manning wins.