Offense struggles in second half's tough situations and opportunities**
The first half was nearly impeccable for the Broncos offense, and part of the reason was because they kept situations manageable. The average distance Denver faced on eight first-half third-down attempts was 5.25 yards, and they converted all eight. The longest distance of those was 10 yards.
But in the second half, that third-down average distance almost doubled to a 9.8-yard average. The offense converted just one of nine third-down conversion attempts, and four of the attempts were from 10 yards or further from the first-down marker.
The Steelers took the win in the second half in Pittsburgh.
"We were in really good position, then we got ourselves out of position and yet we've still got opportunities to make it happen and are unable to, for whatever reason," tight end Owen Daniels said. "It's awesome that the defense was able to give us those opportunities and the big return on special teams to get us a shorter field, good field position, but it all comes down to us executing better and just not hurting ourselves. It's doable. We did it in the first half, but we've just got to match that for 60 minutes."
Denver also took a step back in starting field position from the first half to the second. In the first, the Broncos had two drive that began with beneficial starting position: one that began at their own 39-yard line, and one that started at the 50. Their average starting position was about the Denver 26-yard line.
In their first seven drives of the second half, though, they began at their own 18-yard line, on average. But they caught a break on their final two possessions, which were the only two of the second half during which they trailed Pittsburgh.
On the first, the Broncos reached into their bag of tricks on a kickoff, with wide receiver Jordan Norwood lateralling to Cody Latimer, who reversed the field and took off for a 27-yard gain to the Denver 40-yard line.
Their next drive also received favorable starting field position when inside linebacker Brandon Marshall intercepted Roethlisberger at Pittsburgh's 41-yard line.
However, the offense stalled on each possession. It gained 24 yards on the former, and then zero yards on the latter, turning the ball over on downs each time.
The frustrations of the second half are maddening, but that they appeared so suddenly after such a successful first half made them all the more exasperating.
"That's probably what makes it even more difficult — the fact that we did play so well in the first half and played so crappy in the second half," Daniels said. "If it was crap all the way through, there would be different issues, but playing so well, we've just got to find a way to keep that going and we've got to work on that, for sure."
Malik Jackson shines with two sacks, but ends game frustrated
No one was more disruptive for the Broncos defense than defensive end Malik Jackson. The two sacks speak loudly enough for his efforts, but that he powered through to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger while being held each time was even more impressive.
Jackson drew three holding penalties, one apiece from Steelers guard Ramon Foster, tackle Alejandro Villanueva and center/guard Cody Wallace.
But after the game, Jackson took no solace in his individual success amid the team's fall from a two-touchdown lead at halftime.
"It is what it is — we lost, so I don't feel too good," Jackson said. "That's my goal, to walk off the field every week and live to fight another day. I did that, but there's team goals in this game, too, and the team goal is to get a win — ugly, beautiful, it doesn't matter — just get the win, and we didn't do that today."
After the Broncos' game on Sunday, the following promotions are available:
- McDonald's is offering fans in Colorado one-dollar Big Mac sandwiches or one-dollar sausage egg McMuffins on Monday and 30 percent off any jersey in the Broncos team store.
- With three touchdowns, Arby's is offering one-dollar roast beef sandwiches.