Final

Steelers 14

(2-4, 1-2 away)

Broncos 17

(5-1, 3-0 home)

4:15 PM ET, October 12, 2003

 

1 2 3 4 T
PIT 3 3 0 814
DEN 0 7 0 1017

Denver improves to 5-1

DENVER (AP) -- The defense gave the Denver Broncos a chance to win. Jason Elam took advantage.

Elam hit a 47-yard field goal on the final play of the game Sunday to lift Denver past Pittsburgh 17-14, the Steelers' third straight loss.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Steelers: What has happened to the offense the past three weeks?
This team has offensive-line problems, but the biggest problem has been QB Tommy Maddox's play. Maddox isn't handling the pressure of being the starting QB well. This year with no running game, he's been very loose with the football and hasn't supplied the Steelers with the rhythm pinpoint passing they need.

Question on the Broncos: How big was this win going into next week's contest at Minnesota?
This was a big win for the Broncos. For them to defeat a quality opponent like the Steelers with their backup quarterback is a big confidence booster. There are four or five teams in the NFL that are the cream of the crop and the Broncos may have entered that echelon with this victory.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

"It wasn't a pretty game, but we didn't expect it to be pretty," Broncos defensive tackle Bert Berry said. "We knew it was going to be a battle, and there wouldn't be a moment where we could have a letdown."

Denver (5-1) rebounded from last week's loss to Kansas City and came out on top of a tight game between the AFC's top two defenses.

Pittsburgh (2-4) tied it at 14-all on Jerome Bettis' 1-yard dive and an improbable 2-point conversion, but the Broncos got the ball back at their 20 with 2:41 left.

Steve Beuerlein struggled in place of injured starter Jake Plummer, but was 5-for-8 for 44 yards on the final drive. He also got a break when Pittsburgh safety Brent Alexander dropped an interception at the Steelers' 20 with 44 seconds left.

Elam trotted out four plays later and lined up with 5 seconds left. He hesitated for a bit after the kick, then raised his arms as the ball curled just inside the right upright.

It was his 13th career field goal that won or tied a game.

"I still get nervous on extra points in the preseason, but it's fun to be put in that situation," Elam said. "That's why we play the game."

Bettis appeared to have ruined any chance for the Steelers when he fumbled at Denver's 48-yard line. That led to an 11-yard pass from Beuerlein to Rod Smith, who beat Dewayne Washington on the touchdown -- and on a 34-yard over-the-shoulder catch two plays earlier.

But the Bus made up for it on the next drive.

Pittsburgh moved 74 yards on 13 plays, capping it with a 1-yard dive by Bettis. On the 2-point conversion, Denver's Kelly Herndon tripped up Bettis, who fell on the back of guard Alan Faneca's legs and was towed into the end zone.

The side judge initially ruled that Bettis didn't get in, but the call was changed after the officials huddled for about a minute. Denver challenged the call, but referee Mike Carey upheld it after a long review.

Under league rules, a player isn't considered down until he hits the ground. Bettis landed on Faneca around the 2, but Carey ruled he didn't fall off until after the ball crossed the goal line. Bettis also fumbled as he fell into the end zone, but Carey said it also was after he crossed the line.

"We knew that we had to go down there and score, and we got it," Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress said.

The Steelers managed just 215 total yards, and their makeshift line had a hard time keeping the Broncos off quarterback Tommy Maddox. Pittsburgh also failed to reach 100 yards rushing (85) for the third straight game and managed just 19 yards on 21 plays on Denver's side of the field.

Pittsburgh heads into a bye week with its longest losing skid since 2000.

"We have to sit back and look at who we are at the bye," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "We've got to play with the same sense of urgency from here on out."

Maddox avoided throwing an interception for the first time in five games, but was sacked seven times in his first game in Denver since starting his career there. He hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since Week 3.

"I was trying to make the right decisions," said Maddox, who spent his first two seasons as John Elway's backup. "When you are under pressure, you don't want to throw any ill-advised throws."

Beuerlein made a few of those.

He threw an interception on his first pass and had another in the second quarter that led to a field goal. Beuerlein did hit Shannon Sharpe on a 10-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but he also had an interception called back because of a penalty.

Plummer didn't play after aggravating a shoulder injury against Kansas City.

"I wasn't in a rhythm at all, for whatever reason," said Beuerlein, 17-for-28 for 172 yards. "Against a defense like that, if you don't play 100 percent, then they'll definitely make you pay for it."

Beuerlein certainly wasn't the only one who struggled against Pittsburgh's D, which came into the game No. 1 in the NFL.

The Broncos entered with the league's third-best rushing offense, but managed just 77 yards on 18 carries. Clinton Portis had 47 yards on 15 carries and lost a fumble at Pittsburgh's 25-yard line in the third quarter.

Denver had three turnovers and managed just 242 yards.

"We were stymied most of the game," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

Game notes


Broncos LB Ian Gold tore a knee ligament while covering a punt in the first quarter. ... Denver failed to score in the first quarter for the first time this season. ... Steelers LB Joey Porter was in Denver for the first time since being shot in the leg outside a nightclub on Labor Day weekend. He had six tackles. ... The Broncos are 16-4 following a loss since 2000. ... Smith has caught a pass in 67 straight games, one short of Ed McCaffrey's team record.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
Pittsburgh
Denver
1st Downs1715
3rd down efficiency
4-152-8
4th down efficiency
2-20-0
Total Yards215242
Yards per play3.25.0
Total Drives31
Passing130165
Comp-Att
20-3117-28
Yards per pass
4.25.9
Interceptions thrown
02
Sacks-Yards Lost
7-562-7
Rushing8577
Rushing Attempts
3018
Yards per rush
2.84.3
Penalties9-856-37
Turnovers13
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
02
Possession36:1523:45

Passing Leaders

PITC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Maddox19/301826.1007-56
Randle El1/144.0000-0
DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Beuerlein17/281726.1222-7

Rushing Leaders

PITCARYDSAVGTDLG
Bettis14342.417
Haynes22010.0010
DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Portis15473.1010
Smith12626.0026

Receiving Leaders

PITRECYDSAVGTDLG
Ward88110.1019
Burress56012.0023
DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith47017.5138
Sharpe6559.2113

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERPITDEN
FG6:00JEFF REED 24 YD
Drive: 4 plays, 4 yds, 1:32
30
SECOND QUARTERPITDEN
TD2:51SHANNON SHARPE 10 YD PASS FROM STEVE BEUERLEIN (JASON ELAM KICK)
Drive: 8 plays, 64 yds, 4:31
37
FG8:45JEFF REED 26 YD
Drive: 4 plays, 11 yds, 1:40
67
FOURTH QUARTERPITDEN
TD5:38ROD SMITH 11 YD PASS FROM STEVE BEUERLEIN (JASON ELAM KICK)
Drive: 4 plays, 52 yds, 2:01
614
TD12:19JEROME BETTIS 1 YD RUN (JEROME BETTIS RUN FOR TWO-POINT CONVERSION)
Drive: 13 plays, 74 yds, 6:41
1414
FG15:00JASON ELAM 47 YD
Drive: 10 plays, 51 yds, 2:36
1417