Failure from top to bottom.
The Steelers played a team Sunday in the postseason that they were four games better than in the win column, but in the end, they failed in just about every area, losing to the Denver Broncos 29-23 in OT to wrap up the 2011 season.
The year ends with a 12-5 record, and a rash of injuries that would have made it near impossible to make it far in the postseason. Despite all that, not many people gave Tim Tebow and the Broncos a shot to beat what was the NFL’s #1 ranked defense.
Instead, the #1 ranked D lost both Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel on the D-line early in the game, and while the Steelers held Denver to 8 yards in the first half, after losing the two linemen the Steelers defense was nowhere near as formidable as it was with them.
Tebow and Denver went on a scoring spree in the second quarter, scoring 20 points in the quarter, and 17 points in about 6 minutes. It’s a minor miracle the Steelers made it as much of a game as it was.
They were able to rally and tie it a one-yard TD run from Mike Wallace, and then a Shaun Suisham 37-yard field goal with 9:59 to play. After LaMarr Woodley recovered a fumble, the Steelers tied the game with 3:48 to play when Ben Roethlisberger hit Jerricho Cotchery with a 31-yard touchdown.
They had a chance to win it in regulation, but a couple sacks and a strip sack cost them that chance. Instead, they the last offensive play of the year was a sack, as they never got another offensive snap.
With the ball at the 20, Tebow connected with Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard touchdown pass where Ryan Mundy came up for help against the run, and Tebow threw a perfect pass to Thomas, who torched Ike Taylor for 204 yards on four catches.
Thomas hauled in a high play-action pass at the Denver 38, stiff-armed Taylor and then outraced Mundy to the end zone. Tebow knelt in his own end zone, pounding a fist in triumph before taking a victory lap in jubilation, ending the season for the Steelers.
Tebow threw for 316 yards on 10-for-21 passing. Roethlisberger was 22-for-40 for 289 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
Issac Redmen filled in more than well for injured Rashard Mendenhall, as he raced for 121 yards on 17 carries. Emmanuel Sanders led the wide out core with 6 grabs for 88 yards.
The blame should go all the way around. The Broncos made adjustments against the Steelers defense, and the Steelers did not. The offense looked great at the start, then failed miserably.
Bottom line, they may have lost next Saturday to the Patriots, but now we will never get a chance to see if that would have happened or not. Instead, it’s another missed chance, just like the two losses to the Ravens, the loss to Houston, and the loss to the Niners.