Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is helped by teammates after being injured
KUSA - It’s setting up nicely for the Denver defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown is woozy. Their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a bum shoulder.
Brown is in the concussion protocol but the Denver Broncos expect him to be cleared in time to play when the teams meet for a second-round AFC playoff game Sunday afternoon (2:40 p.m. kickoff) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Big Ben will play, but deep throws figure to be a problem. Broncos’ safeties can cheat up and worry about nothing over their heads, right Darian Stewart?
“I’m not buying it,” said Stewart, the Broncos’ free safety, who said he is recovering nicely from a hamstring strain. “I’m not buying it, man. I expect him to play. I expect him to be 100 percent. I’m not sure what his injury is, but he’s Big Ben. I know he’s capable.”
The Broncos have heard these sandbagger stories before. They also know how the Steelers like to play head games. When these teams played three weeks ago at Pittsburgh, Steelers center Cody Wallace took a flying cheap shot at Broncos safety David Bruton Jr.
Broncos defensive tackle Sylvester Williams retaliated by hammering Wallace. Only Wallace was flagged on the play, but the officials will be watching closely this Sunday.
Former Colorado State Ram and current Steeler linebackers coach Joey Porter, by the way, was yapping at the Broncos from the Steelers sidelines all game long when the team met Dec. 20 in Pittsburgh. Porter was instrumental in goading Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones into an unsportsmanlike penalty that set up the Steelers’ game-winning field goal in a first-round playoff game Saturday.
“What I learned is that you have to keep your composure,’’ said Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson, who was heavily penalized, and fined, during the first-half of the season but has calmed down since. “(The Bengals) just lost their composure and some things. We learned a lot. Watch your composure. Coaches don’t get on the field. Everybody just do your part, don’t do too much and don’t be selfish, show your emotions and make it all about you.”
Somehow, Sunday, the Broncos have to keep their cool. And, unlike their previous game, they can’t let Big Ben and Antonio Brown get out of hand. Brown had 189 of Roethlisberger’s 380 passing yards and two of Big Ben’s three touchdown passes as the Steelers rallied from a 27-10 deficit to defeat the Broncos, 34-27.
Brock Osweiler was the Broncos’ quarterback in that game and he played a sensational first half, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another. Peyton Manning will be the Broncos’ quarterback this time.
The game will also be played in Denver, not Pittsburgh.
“It’s a lot of stuff that’s different,’’ said Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib. “It’s 70,000 on our side this time. They’ve got guys banged up. We’re a little bit healthier, so it’s a lot of stuff that’s different this time. It will be a good one.”
(© 2016 KUSA)