Hello, Guest!


- Steelers Advance to Super Bowl

Chris Pokorny January 22, 2006
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

Tell Chris your opinion.

PRO FOOTBALL CRITICS - The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading back to the Super Bowl, and no one could be happier than the Steelers very own Jerome Bettis. One week after it seemed as if the future Hall of Famer had cost his team a trip to Denver, Bettis and the rest of the Steelers put on a show the entire first half.

After forcing the Broncos to punt on their first drive, the Steelers drove to the Broncos' 29-yard line before Jeff Reed drilled a 47-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead. That's when the Steelers officially took control of the first half, scoring a touchdown on every single drive after their opening possession. And for perhaps the first time this season, Jake Plummer seemed to revert back to the mistakes he was ridiculed for the past few years.

After Reed's field goal, Plummer was stripped of the football by LB Joey Porter, allowing NT Casey Hampton to recover. Several plays later, on the first snap of the second quarter, QB Ben Roethlisberger tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to WR Cedrick Wilson to give Pittsburgh a 10-0 lead, bringing back memories of last week when the Steelers quickly took a two-possession lead over the Colts.

The Broncos began to show some life on their next drive after the Reed's kickoff went out of bounds. Plummer drove his team down to the 5-yard line before the drive stalled, forcing Denver to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Jason Elam. The Steelers barely let the Broncos on the field in the first half after that. The Steelers started their next drive with 9:23 left to play in the second quarter, and did not leave the field until Bettis pounded the ball in from three yards out after the two-minute warning. Unlike last week, Bettis secured the ball to give the Steelers a commanding 17-3 lead.

The fumble by Plummer could have been excused earlier since he didn't have time to throw, but his first throw after Bettis' touchdown is one that he would like to forget. Plummer threw a poor pass to the sideline that was intercepted by CB Ike Taylor. Steelers' RB Willie Parker finally got going, rushing for 24 yards on two carries. With 15 seconds remaining in the half, Roethlisberger rolled out and threw the ball to WR Hines Ward in the back of the end zone. The pass slipped right through the hands of a Broncos defender somehow, giving the Steelers a 24-3 lead heading into halftime.

Much like last week, the Steelers philosophy with a commanding lead in the second half was to run the football and use up the clock, even if it meant they had to punt eventually instead of score. The Steelers took about six minutes off the clock on their opening drive of the half before sending P Chris Gardocki onto the field. Gardocki's punt was downed at the 2-yard line, and the Steelers' defense did not let up. The Broncos actually lost a little under two yards, forcing a punt that would allow the Steelers to take over at the Broncos' 40.

Pittsburgh couldn't do anything with the ball, as the Broncos tried to rally on their next drive. Plummer only needed four passes to drive the Broncos 80 yards, ending after a 30-yard leap-and-catch to WR Ashley Lelie, drawing Denver back within two touchdowns. The Broncos defense tried to keep their team in the game by holding the Steelers to only a field goal, giving them a 17-point lead. Charlie Adams returned the ensuing kickoff 47-yards, pumping some life into the crowd. All of that life was sucked right back out of the stadium with Plummer's first throw of the drive was picked off by LB Larry Foote.

The Steelers quickly punted the ball, but in the end it resulted in a loss 42 yards. The Broncos ended up putting together a very good drive to draw within ten points at 27-17, but there was only 7:52 left in the game. P Todd Sauerbrun kicked the ball out of bounds on the kickoff though, allowing Pittsburgh to feel comfortable in punting the ball when their drive stalled. The Steelers pressured Plummer again, and on fourth down, Plummer fumbled the ball after trying to evade a tackler, giving Pittsburgh the ball at the Broncos' 17-yard line with 4:52 to go. "The Bus" carried the ball four times before Roethlisberger did a playaction on third-down. Big Ben dove into the end zone after the bootleg, sealing a trip to the Super Bowl.

Final Score
Pittsburgh Steelers: 34
Denver Broncos: 17

Do you have an opinion on this article? Do you want direct fantasy football advice from one of our writers? You can e-mail us at pokorny@pfcritics.com. Be sure to label your subject line appropriately so we don't think it is spam. Please include your name (can be a screename), city and state. We guarantee a response to any questions or comments you have, and will publish them in our next mailbag session if appropriate.
NFL tickets and Super Bowl tickets

Meet Doc's Advisory Board for:

PFC Pick'em
- The 2008 PFCritics Pick'em Challenge is now open for registration. Join Now and win big! Sponsored by sportsbettingstats.com
Add to My Yahoo!

© 2004-2024 PFCritics.com. All Rights Reserved.