2015 Broncos Season, Divisional Round
The playoffs have begun, and the Broncos held serve.
Division Round: Broncos 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 16
Season Record: 13-4 (7-2 Home)
Key Play: In the fourth quarter, trailing 13-12, Bradley Roby forced a fumble from Fitzgerald Touissant, and DeMarcus Ware recovered for the Broncos. On the ensuing drive, CJ Anderson scored a one-yard touchdown run and Demaryius Thomas grabbed a two-point conversion to give the Broncos a seven-point lead.
Recap: It wasn't a pretty game, especially offensively. Peyton Manning looked better than he did during the regular season, and didn't turn the ball over. But the Broncos dropped plenty of passes, failed to capitalize on chances in the first half, and didn't get control of the game until late in the fourth quarter. That's not a great way to play a game. But in the playoffs, it's win or go home. The Broncos won, and that's all that matters for now. And now Manning will get another shot at Tom Brady and the Patriots, who come to town on Sunday for the AFC Championship. The Broncos are one win away from Super Bowl 50, and two wins away from where they want to be. That's the good news. The bad news is that there is still plenty of work to be done, and the road won't get any easier.
* CJ Anderson. Anderson was a beast down the stretch, and he was a beast for the Broncos Sunday. He carried the ball 15 times for 72 yards and the sole touchdown of the game for the Broncos.
* Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders didn't have a huge game, and did have a costly drop. But he made five grabs for 85 clutch yards for the Broncos.
* Brandon McManus. Speaking of clutch, McManus made all five of his field goals to spur the Broncos to victory.
* DeMarcus Ware. Ware had a sack and a huge fumble recovery. The talk has been about Manning making one last shot at the Super Bowl, but a big part of me wants that for Ware, too.
* Offensive scheme. Can the Broncos generate better offense and scoring next week? They'll have to if they want to make it to the Super Bowl. Manning was fine Sunday, but we need more to win.
* Pressuring Brady/Covering Gronk. That's the challenge for the Denver defense. Can they get to Tom Brady and can they cover Rob Gronkowski. That is what it will take to win.