Winning on the road in the NFL isn’t easy. Winning at Broncos Stadium at Mile High is a real challenge.
That’s what the Pittsburgh Steelers faced last Sunday afternoon and fell short when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted by Shelby Harris on third down and the ball at the Denver two-yard line.
The pick with a minute left helped the Broncos prevail 24-17 and stopped the Steelers’ six-game winning streak.
“I’m not going to lie to you guys. The interception is not the biggest part of my week,’’ said Harris. “I had a baby girl on Friday. It’s a blessing, man, all this at once. I could really burst into tears, man. I’m just blessed.’’
Harris, a defensive end, explained what happened and said he has faith in his ability.
“I’ve been telling people all year, I’ve got hands and they don’t believe me,’’ he said with a chuckle. “So I had to go out there and show them a little bit.’’
Denver (5-6) forced four turnovers including two picks of Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champion, who passed for 462 yards.
Phillip Lindsay, who played at the University of Colorado and was undrafted, had a two-yard spurt with 9:17 left in the contest that made it 24-17.
Lindsay, who finished with 110 yards on 14 carries, was the first running back to crack 100 yards against the Steelers (7-3-1) this season.
The Broncos tied it at 17-17 when field general Case Keenum (15 of 28 for 197 yards) connected with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (86 yards on seven catches) with a five-yard strike as 5:30 remained in the third quarter.
With the ball resting on Pittsburgh’s three-yard line, Roethlisberger (41 of 56) hit wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster at the 32-yard line, who then raced into the end zone for a 97-yard score as 10:32 remained in the third for a 17-10 edge.
It was the longest scoring pass in franchise history and the second time that Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster (189 yards on 13 receptions), who starred at USC, have collaborated on the long gainer.
The Steelers (527 total net yards), who hadn’t lost on the road this campaign, evened it at 10-10 just before the half when Chris Boswell lined up for a 20-yard field goal, but found tackle Alejandro Villanueva with a two-yard toss.
After Keenum’s 10-yard bullet to tight end Matt LaCosse (34 yards on three receptions) and 3:27 left in the second, Denver shifted ahead 10-3.
Boswell’s 41-yard field goal with 6:29 left in the second stanza tied it at 3-3.
The Broncos (308 total yards) took a 3-0 lead when Brandon McManus nailed a 41-yarder and 6:26 on the clock in the opening frame.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown was held to 67 yards on nine receptions and running back James Conner had 53 yards on 13 rushes for the Steelers.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.