Tidbits, thoughts and anecdotes from Heinz Field as the Broncos grapple with the Steelers:
4:54 P.M. EST: Pittsburgh moves into scoring range … Louis Green filling in for Ian Gold when the Broncos use three linebackers.
4:58 P.M. EST: The Broncos just found out how mobile Ben Roethlisberger can be, as he spent about six seconds moving outside the pocket before locating Willie Parker for the Steelers’ first touchdown of the game, trimming the Broncos’ lead in half.
5:01 P.M. EST: Jake Plummer’s scoring strikes in the opening period gave him his first multi-touchdown-pass first quarter since Oct. 31, 2004 against Atlanta. Ominously — if you believe in the power of patterns — the Broncos lost that day, 41-28.
5:02 P.M. EST: A good run spoiled: Brian Clark’s 65-yard kickoff return comes back to the Pittsburgh 22 after Sam Brandon commits a holding penalty. Still, Clark’s explosiveness and a long stride seem to be a boon to the Broncos on returns — if they can just steer clear of the penalties that have plagued them this season.
5:05 P.M. EST: The towels are twirling, and the Broncos go three-and-out.
5:09 P.M. EST: First and 10 for Pittsburgh, and the Broncos send John Lynch on a safety blitz; his pressure forces Roethlisberger into an incompletion The Steelers respond with the no-huddle, and Parker scoots outside, past Al Wilson to pick up 20 yards.
5:11 P.M. EST: Another defensive injury: Nick Ferguson takes a knee after a jarring collision with Hines Ward at the end of a 15-yard Steelers gain. A moment later he pops up and walks from the field under his own power.
5:13 P.M. EST: Sam Brandon comes in for Ferguson — who suffered a slight concussion — and the Steelers keep rolling — in the no huddle, and into the red zone after a 14-yard gain by Parker.
5:16 P.M. EST: Elvis Dumervil is now responsible for two third-down stops. He sacked Roethlisberger in the first quarter, then pressured the passer into an errant pass that Champ Bailey nabbed for his fourth interception of the season. And if Dumervil hadn’t gotten there with the pressure, Sam Brandon would have.
5:19 P.M. EST: The Broncos’ offense continues to have difficulty, going three-and-out for the second consecutive drive. Since getting a first down with 4:32 left in the first quarter, Denver has run nine plays for 15 yards, gaining no first downs.
5:23 P.M. EST: Ebenezer Ekuban becomes the third Bronco defensive player to succumb to injury; a groin injury has left him questionable to return. Ferguson had returned, but now leaves the game after taking yet another shot from Ward.
5:27 P.M. EST: Darrent Williams nearly wrapped up Cedrick Wilson, but couldn’t throw him down on third-and-2 … D.J. Williams, though, saved the play, directing him out of bounds to snuff out a Steelers drive. Jeff Reed misses the field goal wide right, and the Broncos emerge unscathed after yet another Pittsburgh scoring opportunity.
5:28 P.M. EST: A Cedric Cobbs sighting … he spells Mike Bell for two yards up the middle. Second-and-8 sees more use of the two-tight-end formation with Chad Mustard playing along with Stephen Alexander.
5:33 P.M. EST: A third straight three-and-out after Rod Smith can’t quite bring in the deep pass from Jake Plummer. Pittsburgh takes over at its 21-yard-line with 102 seconds left in halftime.
5:36 P.M. EST: Lickety split, the Steelers are back in Broncos territory, at the Denver 32.
5:38 P.M. EST: Denver’s defense holds, but Jeff Reed hits a 46-yard field goal as time expires, narrowing Denver’s halftime lead to 14-10.