The Steelers, despite leading throughout the day, had to hang on before defeating the visiting Broncos on Sunday, 26-21. Pittsburgh took a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Broncos cut the lead to five, then threatened to take their first lead before Terrell Edmunds' sack of backup quarterback Jeff Driskel helped seal the win for Pittsburgh.
The Broncos, who were without quarterback Drew Lock for most of the game after the second-year quarterback suffered an early shoulder injury, pulled to within five points after Driskel hit Melvin Gordon for a 16-yard touchdown with 7:43 left. Pittsburgh's defense, however, wouldn't allow the Broncos to get any closer. After Denver reached the Steelers' 15-yard line, Driskel was sacked by Edmunds on a safety blitz. The sack gave the ball back to the Steelers, who put the game on ice following a 59-yard run by James Conner. Conner, who missed most of Pittsburgh's season-opener with an injury, rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries on Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger, who on Sunday moved past Eli Manning on the NFL's all-time career list for passing yards and touchdown passes, threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns. His 84-yard strike to Chase Claypool helped Pittsburgh take a 17-3 halftime lead, while his 28-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson stretched the lead to 24-14 with 11:26 left.
Four first half sacks and two forced turnovers played a significant role in Pittsburgh's early success. Bud Dupree's forced fumble of Lock (the play where Lock sustained his injury), set up Conner's 2-yard first quarter touchdown. Joe Haden's interception of Driskel set up a Chris Boswell field goal just before halftime.
Denver, led by its defense, scored 11 unanswered points in the third quarter. Justin Simmons' interception of Roethlisberger set up a field goal, while a turnover on downs on Pittsburgh's ensuing possession set up Driskel's 20-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant. Fant's 2-point conversion moments later made it a three-point game heading into the fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh responded with Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to Johnson, which came two plays after Big Ben hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on a critical fourth down play. Pittsburgh padded its lead after Denver punter Sam Martin muffed the snap moments later. The Broncos' defense, however, gave Denver new life after Shelby Harris forced a fumble of Pittsburgh running back Benny Snell. The turnover set up Driskel's touchdown pass to Gordon.
Denver fell to 0-2 heading into next Sunday's game against the visiting Buccaneers. The Steelers, 2-0 for the first time since 2017, will host Houston next Sunday.
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