PITTSBURGH —** Though the score tells a different story, Sunday's 34-27 loss to the Steelers wasn't too different from the previous week's 15-12 defeat to the Raiders.
It was a tale of two halves with a much more successful first half on offense, but the end result was the same. This time, it was the Steelers rallying from a double-digit deficit to overtake the Broncos while holding their offense scoreless in a frustrating final two periods.
But in the first half, it seemed like Denver's offense had corrected the errors it committed a week earlier. It was a perfect 8-for-8 on third downs, succeeded in the red zone and created explosive plays. In his fifth start, quarterback Brock Osweiler converted on each of his seven third-down passing attempts and threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
"Head] Coach [Gary Kubiak] really preached to us all week long, 'Each individual guy, do your job. Do your job and it's going to result in good things,'" Osweiler said after the game.
Outside of the first possession, which ended in a Ronnie Hillman fumble, the offense was a well-oiled machine. Osweiler conducted an 85-yard drive to even the score with an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Then he came back after a Steelers three-and-out and capitalized on defensive miscommunication to find Emmanuel Sanders for a 61-yard touchdown on a play-action pass.
Taking a 27-13 lead into the break and showing signs that any lingering woes were behind them, the Broncos looked in control, just like a week ago. And similarly enough, the wheels fell off in the second half.
The offense slowed to a disjointed crawl, failing to succeed in rushing and passing. After tallying 88 rushing yards and 207 net passing yards in the first half, the offense mustered just 16 yards on the ground and 74 through the air in the second half. The first six drives of the second half each ended in a punt, then Osweiler threw an interception and the final two possessions ended with turnovers on downs.
"We just couldn't get into a rhythm for some reason. I think you have to give credit where credit is due and the Steelers and their coaching staff made some great halftime adjustments," Osweiler said. "Those guys on the field played a great second half for the Steelers."
There was also concern that a first-half injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder had an impact on his play, but Osweiler denied that it had any such effect. Head Coach Gary Kubiak said the injury was a bruise.
Ultimately, for Osweiler and the Broncos, he said just came down to a matter of execution.
"Obviously it needs to be better, it needs to be fixed and as a group we will get it fixed."