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Readying for Revenge Factor

Posted Sep 5, 2012

Broncos players expect the Steelers to have some added motivation from Denver’s 2011 AFC Wild Card overtime victory, but know that the two teams have changed significantly from last season.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- All of Broncos Country remembers the last time the Steelers visited Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

In fact, that was the last meaningful game that Pittsburgh played, as its season ended when Demaryius Thomas crossed the goal line in Denver’s 29-23 overtime victory in the AFC Wild Card Round.

So, with that as Pittsburgh’s last memory of the 2011 season, the Broncos expect the Steelers to have thoughts of revenge on their minds.

“They’re going to come in with a lot of energy, there’s no doubt about it,” safety Jim Leonhard said. “They’re a veteran group that has a lot of pride. They don’t take too kindly to getting knocked out of the playoffs, especially on the road. They’re going to come in with a lot of energy and you have to know that you have to match it and not only match it, but then sustain it for the rest of the game.”

Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson agreed that the Steelers might come in with a chip on their shoulders.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a powerhouse in the NFL,” he said. “To get knocked out in the first round by the Denver Broncos team last year, they might have some stuff on their mind this year, first game coming back."

On the other side, Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin downplayed the significance of added motivation from last season’s playoff matchup. With the free-agent and rookie additions by both teams, the rosters are significantly different from the squads that squared off in January.

In fact, just 47 of the 88 players that appeared in that game remain on the teams’ rosters – Denver returns 21 players from that game while Pittsburgh retained 26.

“No, that’s a different team as far as I’m concerned, personally,” Tomlin said. “We better remain focused on the challenges that are in front of us this weekend as opposed to looking back at something that happened months ago.”

Broncos Head Coach John Fox echoed that sentiment and said that what happened is in the past, and this year’s matchup will hinge on the two teams that step foot on the grass at Sports Authority Field.

“Usually that’s history,” he said. “History doesn’t have too much importance on the present. So for right now, our focus is on the present. Their team’s different, our team’s different -- whoever plays the best will win.”

With the NFL calendar turning from 2011 to 2012, every team enters Week 1 with a 0-0 record.

Denver enjoyed its victory last season, but has hit fast forward and is focused on a strong start to a fresh slate.

“At the end of the day, that’s last year,” Vickerson said. “This is a new year. They changed some stuff and we’ve changed some stuff. It’s a whole new ballgame.”

Wide receiver Eric Decker, who was injured in the playoff win against Pittsburgh, added that it’s not just the Steelers that are motivated by last year’s result.

“I know it’s probably motivation for them, obviously, they got knocked out by us last year and they want to come back and prove something,” he said. “At the same time, it’s a new year -- both teams look a little different.

"And we’ve got something to prove as well.”