8:30 P.M. MDT: Denver with a season-high in points; the Broncos came in averaging 15.0 a game; they have 28 already tonight.
8:34 P.M. MDT: The post-kickoff stoppage again arrives, but it’s the ability of networks to sell commercial time on broadcasts that helps make the NFL so big, so I use them as an excuse to work on the game story or go to the water closet.
8:36 P.M. MDT: No panic from the Steelers as they begin this possession in poor field position; they now stand at their 33 with first-and-10.
8:37 P.M. MDT: Now second-and-13 … and the pass rush stalks Roethlisberger once again, but he finds Willie Parker, who scoots forward up the left sideline for 22 yards to the Denver 47.
8:38 P.M. MDT: Parker gains 24 to the right side before Karl Paymah knocks him out of bounds; Alan Faneca took out Ian Gold, who had the play read in the backfield, to spring Parker loose.
8:39 P.M. MDT: More blitzing from the Broncos; this one’s from John Lynch, who deflects a pass incomplete.
8:39 P.M. MDT: Timeout, Steelers.
8:42 P.M. MDT: Monstrous third-down play … third-and-2 from the Denver 15 … Parker scoots left, into a forest of blue and black helmets … he’s close to the first down … but he’s about a football and a half short.
8:44 P.M. MDT: Ben Roethlisberger leans into the pile and drives … it looks as though he’s got the first down, and he does.
8:45 P.M. MDT: OK, now, after moving the sticks forward, they’re bringing them back on the field to measure … and it remains a first down.
8:46 P.M. MDT: Al Michaels keeps calling him “Tim” Spaeth … but it’s Matt Spaeth, and the ex-wunderkind for the Minnesota Golden Gophers has the touchdown that brings the Steelers back to within a score.
8:50 P.M. MDT: For the writer on deadline, post-kickoff timeouts can be one’s best friend.
8:52 P.M. MDT: The first two plays of the drive aren’t promising for the Broncos — a 5-yard loss on a Brandon Stokley end-around and a 1-yard gain for Selvin Young on second-and-15.
8:53 P.M. MDT: Denver uses its first timeout of the half with 8:39 left in regulation.
8:55 P.M. MDT: Cutler in trouble on third-and-14 … he picks up four yards, but the Broncos will nevertheless punt with just under eight minutes left.
8:58 P.M. MDT: Travis Henry is out for the game with bruised ribs.
8:59 P.M. MDT: Pittsburgh starting to move again … now at its 33.
9:01 P.M. MDT: Third-and-eight at the PIT 35 … Crowd at a maniacal pitch … R’berger in the shotgun … looked like Marvel Smith clearly false-started, but no call … R’berger finds Ward across the middle to the Denver 49.
9:02 P.M. MDT: R’berger to Parker for 12 more … Now at the Denver 37 … Some uneasiness in the crowd now.
9:03 P.M. MDT: R’berger pumps, under pressure and is clobbered by John Engelberger, but a flag comes in at the point where the Virginia Tech product got the sack … Bill Carollo converses with John Lynch, discussing the holding penalty on Pittsburgh that is summarily declined.
9:05 P.M. MDT: Now with third-and-10 at the 37 … Crowd raucous … Can feel the floor shaking beneath me … R’berger on a slant to Cedrick Wilson, and the Steelers pick up 12. Steelers now 8-of-12 on third downs tonight.
9:08 P.M. MDT: Crowd trying to rally Denver’s defense … second-and-6 … R’berger with the playfake to a wide-open Carey Davis, who moves to the Denver 12 … Steelers draining the clock as well; there’s 1:33 left and ticking.
9:09 P.M. MDT: R’berger to Heath Miller in the back of the end zone, touchdown, past Nick Ferguson. Cue the towels.
9:10 P.M. MDT: Jeff Reed drills the extra point, tying the game. Seventy seconds remaining. The Broncos have two timeouts and Jay Cutler has led five game-tying or game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his 10 games as starter. We’ll see if he has any magic here …
9:13 P.M. MDT: Cutler finds Tony Scheffler for 16 yards up the middle, but there is a flag down … and it’s on the Broncos … and Scheffler hobbles to the sidelines. With Nate Jackson and Stephen Alexander already on injured reserve, the Broncos can scarcely afford another injury at tight end, particularly to a target as reliable for Cutler as No. 88.
9:14 P.M. MDT: The penalty was offsides against the Steelers, so the play stands.
9:15 P.M. MDT: Second-and-10 now at the 36 … Broncos now at the 45 after Cutler finds Brandon Marshall … clock ticking … Jay Cutler tries to sneak forward for the first down.
9:15 P.M. MDT: Flag down … 0:41 left … offsides on Pittsburgh moves the Broncos near Steelers territory. Denver still has two timeouts left. Now at midfield.
9:16 P.M. MDT: Cutler on the slant to Glenn Martinez … tough catch with a defender draped all over him … 11 yards, first down, timeout Denver. Got to love the way the young quarterback trusts all his receivers — even the ones with scant regular-season experience like the pride of Auburndale High School, Martinez.
9:17 P.M. MDT: From the Steelers 39 … Shotgun formation … across the middle … looks like it might have been caught by Daniel Graham, but it’s ruled incomplete … A replay review is coming.
9:19 P.M. MDT: Looked to me like Graham had it, and then was down by contact after Anthony Smith grabbed him in the back of the jersey. Smith had his hand on the back of Graham’s shirt as the ball came in.
9:21 P.M. MDT: Yep, down by contact.
9:22 P.M. MDT: Second-and-1 at the Steelers 30. Twenty-six seconds remain … Broncos are in a tight lineup; I-formation, one receiver … handoff to the left side to Selvin Young for no gain. Clock ticking … down to two seconds left before the Broncos take timeout.
9:23 P.M. MDT: Long field-goal try coming; Broncos are at the Steelers 31; this will be a 49-yard field-goal try for Elam.
9:24 P.M. MDT: From 48 yards … well, the Steelers take timeout before the Broncos can get the snap away.
9:26 P.M. MDT: It’s good, and the Broncos win, 31-28.
Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers