Updated: Sep 23
Chase Claypool - Ben Roethlisberger hit Claypool in stride down the left sidelines for an 84-yard touchdown in the second quarter. It was Claypool’s first career touchdown reception and he simply just burned Broncos’ cornerback Micheal Ojemundia on a go route on the play. Claypool was also impressive on special teams with three tackles.
Diontae Johnson - Johnson started off slow with a fumble on a jet sweep on the first offensive play of the game, but he bounced back and finished the game with eight receptions for 92 yards on a team-high 13 targets and a touchdown, averaging 11.5 yards per catch. Johnson had a nice 28-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter from Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger scrambled to the right and found Johnson in the back of the end zone, which would give the Steelers a 24-14 lead after the extra point. Johnson also had an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter but it was negated due to a block in the back penalty called on Can Sutton.
Terrell Edmunds - On fourth-and-2 late in the fourth quarter with Steelers leading 26-21, Denver was at the Steelers' 15-yard line and Edmunds blitzed off the edge and came up with a huge sack on Driskel to turn the ball over on downs. Earlier in the drive Edmunds was called for pass interference on third-and-11 to keep Denver’s drive alive. Many in the media and fans have criticized Edmunds for his lack of big plays, well he certainly came up big in a crucial moment today.
James Conner - Following Edmunds’ sack on Driskel to turn the ball over on downs, James Conner broke off a 59-yard run to the Broncos’ 10-yard line to close out the game. Conner bounced back after a disappointing start to the season against the Giants where he rushed for 9 yards on six carries and left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. Conner rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown, an average of 6.6 yards per carry.
Bud Dupree - Dupree continued off his dominating Monday night performance today against the Broncos. In the first quarter on third-and-7 from the Steelers’ 25-yard line, T.J. Watt pressured Drew Lock out of the pocket and Dupree had a strip-sack on Drew Lock and Mike Hilton came up with the loose ball. Lock injured his shoulder on the play and would be out for the rest of the game. Dupree had two total tackles, a strip-sack and three quarterback hits against Denver.
T.J. Watt - Like Dupree, Watt was a handful for the Broncos’ offensive line. The tackles for Denver just simply couldn’t block the Steelers’ duo in Watt and Dupree. Watt had four total tackles, 2.5 sacks, two tackles for a loss and four quarterback hits against the Broncos.
Mike Hilton - Hilton was all over the field and was creating havoc for Denver’s offense. Hilton had a team-high eight total tackles, a sack on Driskel on a nice designed blitz, two tackles for a loss, a pass defensed and two quarterback hits. Hilton also had a fumble recovery in the first quarter after Dupree's strip-sack on Lock.
The pass rush - The defense was breathing down Lock and Jeff Driskel’s neck all game. Specifically, Driskel who replaced Lock after he was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury in the first quarter. In total, the Steelers hit Denver’s quarterbacks 19 times and had seven sacks. In addition, the defense had 11 tackles for a loss. Tyson Alualu had five total tackles, a sack, a pass deflection and two quarterback hits, while Cam Heyward had four total tackles, a half a sack, a tackle for a loss and four quarterback hits.
Offensive line - The offensive line allowed just one sack and three quarterback hits. They also paved the way for a 100-plus yard rusher for the second consecutive week. Chuks Okorafor and Kevin Dotson looked solid on the right side of the offensive line, Okorafor making his first start this year and Dotson his first career start.
Penalties/Linebackers in pass coverage - Mike Hilton was called for roughing the passer late in the third quarter, which led to a Noah Fant 20-yard touchdown reception. Driskel completed to Fant once again on the two-point conversion to shorten the Steelers lead to 17-14. Devin Bush was beat in coverage on back-to-back plays by Fant. Bush got penalized for pass interference on third-and-2 in the fourth quarter and the Broncos would capitalize three plays later with a Driskel to Melvin Gordon 16-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 26-21. Vince Williams was beat by Gordon on a wheel route for the score. The Steelers were penalized 10 times for 89 yards in the game, six of those penalties resulted in first downs for Denver.
Benny Snell Jr. - With the Steelers leading 26-14 with 9:41 remaining in the game and coming off a safety, Snell fumbled and the Broncos came up with the loose ball. After rushing for 113 yards on 19 carries against the Giants in Week 1, Snell rushed for just 5 yards on three carries against the Broncos. Denver took advantage of Snell’s fumble and drove down the field for a score to bring the Steelers lead to just five points, 26-21. Snell has now fumbled twice this season, as he fumbled against the Giants but JuJu Smith-Schuster came up with the recovery.
Third-down efficiency - The Steelers were not efficient on third downs on offense, going 2 of 12. The offense just couldn’t keep the chains moving in third-down situations, which really led to Denver hanging in the game. The Steelers should have finished the Broncos off much earlier in the game and the score shouldn’t have been as close.