Tidbits, thoughts and anecdotes from Heinz Field as the Broncos grapple with the Steelers:
4:13 P.M. EST: Pittsburgh wins the toss and will receive the opening kickoff; Denver will kick from right to left on your television, defending the south end zone. The breeze is negligible. The early afternoon results haven’t exactly helped out either team today, with the Chiefs and Ravens both pulling out wins.
4:17 P.M. EST: Standard starting lineup for the Broncos, which includes Gerard Warren, back in action after missing last week. Denver goes big-nickel on second-and-10 for the game’s second play; Darrent Williams’ open-field tackle forces Pittsburgh into third-and-6.
4:18 P.M. EST: “Louisville in the house,” announces DenverBroncos.com’s Kyle Sonneman after Elvis Dumervil snags sack No. 6 on the season, sprinting around tackle Max Starks to slam into Ben Roethlisberger. A good start for the Denver defense — particularly with a third-down stop that it was largely unable to find last January.
4:19 P.M. EST: Denver opens in a two-tight end formation — Chad Mustard and Stephen Alexander — with Mike Bell as the sole setback. Jake Plummer uses the formation to locate Javon Walker for 38 yards, and the Broncos are quickly in scoring range.
4:23 P.M. EST: “He’s tough, he’s tall,” says Phil Simms of Rod Smith after he outworks DeShea Townsend for a touchdown grab. That might the first time that Smith has ever been called “tall,” at least relative to other football players. The play caps a four-play, 63-yard drive — and gives the Broncos their first opening-drive points of the season.
4:24 P.M. EST: An early piece of strategy: Chad Mustard in for the balance of the drive as an extra blocking tight end.
4:25 P.M. EST: But who needs strategy when Keith Burns can pop the football loose from Santonio Holmes? Darrent Williams scoops up the loose footbal and runs it to the Pittsburgh 10.
4:27 P.M. EST: Javon Walker will probably kick himself afterwards for not getting what would have been a 10-yard touchdown.
4:28 P.M. EST: Maybe not. Same call — Jake Plummer throwing to Javon Walker, placing it outside so no one in black and gold can procure it. Broncos 14, Steelers 0 just 3:55 into the game.
4:31 P.M. EST: Pittsburgh’s crowd finally gets something to twirl its towels about, as Hines Ward converts the third down to move the Steelers to the Denver 40.
4:35 P.M. EST: After I wondered to my press-box neighbors why the Steelers use Willie Parker up the middle so much, they give it to him on a run to the left side … but Ian Gold uses his speed to catch the fleet-footed North Carolinian and hold him to a three-yard gain. One play later, the Broncos force an incompletion, setting the Steelers up in a fourth-and-two, which sees them go for it … and momentarily succeed … but ultimately fail when Sam Brandon strips Cedrick Wilson of the football, allowing Darrent Williams to recover.
4:41 P.M. EST: A flag on Stephen Alexander spoils what would have been a 50-yard reception for Brandon Marshall, who today returns to the hometown of his early youth before he moved to Florida.
4:42 P.M. EST: Darrent Williams’ two fumble recoveries make him the first Bronco with multiple fumble recoveries since Bill Romanowski against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 8, 1996.
4:46 P.M. EST: Denver will punt for the first time after Troy Polamalu comes in unblocked from the left side and mauls Jake Plummer int he back, forcing an errant pass on third-and-10 from the Denver 21. Ernster then rifles a 49-yard punt that Santonio Holmes promptly fumbles, although this time the Steelers hold onto the football.
4:52 P.M. EST: The Broncos will likely have to do without Ian Gold the rest of the day; he is doubtful to return after straining his hamstring.
Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers