These were the plays and players that mattered in a 26-21 loss to the Steelers.
The Broncos lost Drew Lock early on Sunday against the Steelers.
Reserve quarterback Jeff Driskel and a strong performance from the Denver defense nearly prevented the Broncos from losing the game, too.
Driskel led the Broncos down the field and was just 15 yards away from a come-from-behind win. A failed fourth down, though, ended the Broncos’ hopes at a double-digit comeback.
The severity of Lock’s injury wasn’t known as the game ended, but Driskel, Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon and Co. helped Denver fight valiantly. The Broncos were battered Sunday, as they lost Lock, Courtland Sutton and several other players to injury. They wouldn’t, though, be broken. Without their starting quarterback, Denver nearly capped an impressive comeback.
On their final offensive drive, the Broncos moved the ball all the way to the Pittsburgh 15-yard line trailing by just five points. But on fourth-and-2, Driskel was sacked on a blitz by Terrell Edmunds. The Steelers picked up a first down on the ensuing drive when James Conner ran for a 59-yard gain.
The Broncos lost the game, but their defense gave them a chance. Against a potent Steelers offense, Denver’s defense held Pittsburgh to just 2-of-12 on third down. That 17 percent clip gave the Broncos the possessions they needed to overcome a deficit that was as large as 14 points. The Broncos’ offense did its part at times, scoring 21 points. The defense, though, forced two turnovers and held up when it mattered most.
Driskel’s pass to Noah Fant for the score was impressive, but we’ll give the nod to Justin Simmons for his third-quarter interception. The fifth-year pro snagged his first pick of the season off a deep pass to Roethlisberger and weaved his way into Pittsburgh territory. The Broncos managed a field goal on the drive, and the play kick-started an 11-0 third quarter in favor of the Broncos.
Despite the circumstances, Jeff Driskel filled in admirably at times as he completed 18-of-34 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Safety Kareem Jackson recorded a big pass breakup and a fourth-quarter fumble recovery.
Noah Fant added his second touchdown reception in as many games with his 20-yard catch from Driskel. He added the two-point conversion, too. A late 22-yard catch was also crucial to the Broncos’ hopes. He finished with four catches for 57 yards and the score.
In addition to his interception, Justin Simmons tallied eight tackles, a tackle for loss and two passes defensed.
Mike Purcell recorded his first sack with the Broncos, and it was the team’s only sack of the game.
KJ Hamler caught three passes for 48 yards and had one rush for 9 yards in his first career game.