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Fast and Furious

Posted Nov 6, 2006

The Broncos forced six turnovers and scored 14 points in the first four minutes of the game en route to a 31-20 road victory over the defending world champions.

Turnovers Spark Early Start, Feed Momentum Throughout

Darrent Williams returns a first quarter fumble on a kickoff return to the Steelers 12. The turnover led to the second of two early touchdowns for the Broncos.  PHOTO:ERIC LARS BAKKE
Broncos TVSee what wide receiver Javon Walker had to say after he gained 206 yards from scrimmage and scored three times Sunday at Pittsburgh.

11/6: Broncos-Steelers Postgame
11/5: Postgame: Mike Shanahan
11/5: Postgame: Javon Walker
11/5: Postgame: Jake Plummer
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10/31: Financial Football

AudioListen to postgame audio snippets straight from the locker room in the moments after Denver's 31-20 victory over the Steelers. Click below to listen to streaming audio, or sign up for one of the podcast channels now available to get locker-room interviews and Broncos TV reports straight to your portable device.

11/5: Shanahan | Walker
11/5: Plummer | Bailey
11/5: Smith | Dar. Williams

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11/5: Three and Out

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PITTSBURGH -- In retrospect, the first four minutes of the Broncos' 31-20 victory over the Steelers didn't set the tone for 34-20 victory. The game changed plenty as the afternoon played out.

The 14-point, defense and turnover fuel burst the Broncos used in the opening moments did, however, spell the difference in the 11-point win.

Take either score away and Denver finds itself in a very different game.

Take away both, the Broncos lose by a field goal.

"They had some tough breaks early in the game," cornerback Domonique Foxworth said. "But it's a credit to their team and how they play as champions and fought through. A lesser team would have given up at some point. We just try to use that momentum.

"That 14 points we got early in the first quarter is what we played to protect for most of the game. We ended up wining by what, 11? That was the difference in the game -- those early plays on special teams and big plays by (Javon Walker)."

It was the fastest start of the season for a team that had difficulty getting off to quick beginings in its first seven games.

The team hadn't scored on its opening drive all season but a 38-yard completion set up a touchdown pass from Jake Plummer to Rod Smith less than three minutes into the game to end the game-opening skein.

Steelers kickoff returner Santonio Holmes then fumbled on the following kickoff. Darrent Williams recovered for the Broncos, giving his team first down at the Pittsburgh 12. Three plays later, Plummer found Walker off a fade pattern in the front corner of the end zone.

Head Coach Mike Shanahan stressed solid, mistake-free play all week. The Steelers weren't around to take notes and it was the Broncos who took advantage.

"Mike talked about it earlier as far as all three phases," Smith said. "We came up with a turnover on special teams, had a ton of turnovers on defense and the offense put some points on the board. We had a bunch of big plays and made some little plays when we needed it."

Denver went on to force six turnovers -- three interceptions and two more fumbles. Two interceptions went to All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey. The final two fumbles came inside the Denver 5 -- a cough-up from Cedrick Wilon at the 5 in the first quarter and a late-game drop by Hines Ward at the goal line that would have pulled the Steelers to within five points -- or three if they would have converted a two-point conversion -- with two minutes to play.

As baffling as it may sound, four of six Steeler turnovers came inside the Broncos 10-yard line.

"That's what it takes," linebacker Al Wilson said. "We're not going to give up. Until you score, we feel like we can get the ball out; we feel like we can stop you. I just take my hat off to these guys in this locker room for never quitting, for never giving up and understanding we do have a great football team. As long as we go out and put it together in all three phases we're going to have a great chance to win the game."

The rest of the game was about bending, not breaking and protecting one of the best starts a team on the road against the defending Super Bowl Champions could hope for.

The Steelers finished with 499 total yards, 34:33 seconds of possesion and 54 pass attempts.

But they lost in the one category that matters most.

"Anytime you get turnovers in this league it gives you a great chance to win," Wilson said. "If you can win the turnover battle, 90 percent of the time I believe teams in this league win the football game. My hat is off to this defense for coming out and playing and fighting hard."

And to the rest of the team for taking advantage and staying in front.