This Sunday, January 17th, the Denver Broncos bucked the Pittsburgh Steelers out of the running for the Super Bowl in their first playoff game this season.
Peyton Manning started for the Broncos and played the whole game, defeating a big rival, Ben Roethlisberger.
“It was tough all night,” Manning told ESPN. “They’re a good defense, playing really well for the past number of weeks.”
The Steelers stole the lead all the way until the last legs of the fourth quarter, but Manning led his offense back ahead of the Steelers to win the game 23-16.
Both teams battled strong winds coming off of the mountains for the entirety of the game. However, this did not prevent Bronco’s kicker Brandon McManus from successfully converting all of their scoring opportunities into points. He put all five of his field-goal kicks between the uprights, tying an NFL playoff record in the process.
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell enjoyed some success as well, converting three of his field-goal attempts into points for Pittsburgh.
Among many factors that may have contributed to the Steelers’ loss was the fact that wide receiver Antonio Brown sat out due to a concussion he suffered during the previous week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
This did not stop Roethlisberger from creating a couple big opportunities for his team. Their best eight plays provided a total of 275 yards for the Steelers, while their remaining snaps yielded a total of 118 yards.
Highlights for the Broncos included a fumble forced by cornerback Bradley Roby and a recovery of that fumble by linebacker Demarcus Ware. Also, running back C.J Anderson successfully recovered an attempted onside kick by Chris Boswell.
The win this week catapults the Broncos into the AFC championship game, where they will face the New England Patriots and Tom Brady for the second time this season. The first time the two teams met was when Brock Osweiler was quarterback, and Denver defeated New England. This time, Manning will be leading the team, hopefully to victory.
Some have questioned whether or not Manning will return next season, but reportedly he does not plan to retire, and his contract will give him 19 million dollars through next season.
The majority of the student body has predicted a Broncos victory this weekend, but it will be a very close game. Both teams boast a 13-4 record and both strong offenses and defenses.
“It’ll be the Broncos vs. Patriots,” Manning told ESPN after the game against the Steelers, “We’ll be on to New England.”