The Broncos have been talking about it all week, starting with the postgame press conferences that followed their disappointing loss to Baltimore: They need to bounce back, because that's what good teams do.
The Broncos arrived at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday to face the Ravens, riding high at 3-0 with an emerging leader at QB in Teddy Bridgewater and a defense that had not allowed a single snap inside the red zone in the previous two full games.
But after a concussion sidelined Bridgewater just before halftime, Denver ultimately fell short and dropped their first loss of the season to QB Lamar Jackson and Baltimore.
In the postgame press conferences, the message was clear: The Broncos might have faltered that day, but it would not become a slide into multiple losses. Denver was determined to bounce back against the Steelers.
"We just got to respond," OLB Von Miller said after the game. "It's tough to go 17-0, even though that's what we hope. We just got to rack them up and let this sting for a couple hours and get back in the lab on Monday and respond."
In many ways, the Broncos are correct. Even the best teams lose games, but while the pretenders tend to fall into losing streaks, the contenders rally and respond when given the opportunity.
"If the Broncos are legitimate, this Sunday at Pittsburgh will be revealing," KMGH's Troy Renck wrote.
The Broncos have a chance torally this weekend — to show that they are better than Sunday's loss to Baltimore and to solidify themselves as contenders for 2021 and beyond. They know that proving themselves this week in Pittsburgh is non-negotiable.
"We have no choice," S Justin Simmons said. "If we want to continue playing good football — and obviously Sunday's game was not a great game for us — like you said, you've got to respond. It's not the loss that defines you as a football team, it's how you respond to a loss that defines you as a good football team."
Below the Fold
As the Broncos prepare for a road game in Pittsburgh, their travel plans have required some deviation from custom due to the number of weddings in the area and the effect upon hotel bookings.
"Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio confirmed to 9NEWS that his team won't get to their Pittsburgh-area hotel until relatively late Saturday night — after 8 p.m. — for their 1 p.m. EDT [11 a.m. Denver time] game Sunday against the Steelers," 9NEWS' Mike Klis wrote.
After COVID-19 delayed countless weddings and other events in 2020, many were rescheduled for 2021. Typically booked months or even years in advance, the hotels, ballrooms and meeting rooms in Pittsburgh were already largely reserved before the NFL schedule was released and allowed for travel planning by NFL teams.
"Fangio said the team couldn't get a hotel with enough ballroom/meeting rooms so they could hold their team meetings, as they normally do Saturday evening," Klis wrote. "Fangio said Pittsburgh hotels had their ballrooms and meeting rooms booked before the NFL released its schedule on May 12."
Previously, for the Broncos' most recent road trip to the East Coast, the team flew to Jacksonville on Friday night ahead of an early Sunday game and Saturday evening meetings; this weekend, they will instead hold Saturday afternoon meetings at UCHealth Training Facility ahead of traveling to Pittsburgh Saturday night.
The Broncos are not the only team facing this complication during the 2021 season — many other cities and visiting teams have been affected by similar situations.
"The wedding schedule backlog is not just a Pittsburgh problem," Klis wrote. "The Broncos had talked about staying Saturday nights prior to home games at a downtown Denver hotel but couldn't find one that consistently had enough available meeting rooms."