PITTSBURGH — The Steelers knocked Denver quarterback Drew Lock out of the game early, but the rest of the Broncos took a while longer to beat as Pittsburgh let the Broncos hang around all afternoon at Heinz Field before finally putting away the visitors for a 26-21 victory.
Terrell Edmunds sacked Denver backup Jeff Driskel on a fourth down just after the 2-minute warning to seal the Pittsburgh win, in what was something of a theme for the Steelers defense in the game.
Bud Dupree drove Lock from the game on the second Denver possession of the game with a vicious hit that resulted in a fumble recovered by Mike Hilton and with the Broncos starter still in the medical tent, James Conner plunged in to give the Steelers the lead.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found Chase Claypool for an 84-yard bomb down the left side in the second quarter and the game looked like it would become a rout.
But Broncos backup Jeff Driskel found space to work through the Steelers’ frightening pass rush and lead the Broncos back.
After the Steelers turned the ball over on downs at the Denver 35, Driskell found tight end Noah Fant for a 20-yard score to bring the Broncos to within a field goal at 17-14.
Roethlisberger responded with a 28-yard scoring strike to Diontae Johnson, but then a Benny Snell fumble gave Denver more life and Driskell answered back with a 16-yard touchdown pass to running back Melvin Gordon. The Broncos were driving once more when Edmunds’ fourth-down stop sealed the Pittsburgh victory.
Driskell finished 18 of 34 for 256 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, despite the Steelers defense finishing the afternoon with seven sacks. He nearly battled his opposition to a statistical stalemate. Roethlisberger went 29 of 41 for 311 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The Steelers (2-0) will stay at home to host Houston next Sunday.
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Mike Tomlin Doesn’t Regret Punt, Will Talk to Ben Roethlisberger About Future
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin answers questions from the media following his team’s shocking defeat at the hands of the Browns in the playoffs. Tomlin explained why he decided to punt on a 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter while trailing by multiple scores. He also touched on the timeline for when he will talk to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about his future with the team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Doesn’t Regret ‘Browns Is the Browns’ Comment
PITTSBURGH — It was repeated so often in the five days between when JuJu Smith-Schuster said the phrase on Wednesday to Sunday night’s game at Heinz Field, that it nearly became the No. 1 talking point coming into the game.
“The Browns is the Browns.” Before the game, after the game and probably during the game, many of the Browns made it clear that they had taken exception to Smith-Schuster’s characterization of the team.
The Browns IS THE BROWNS!! 🌚
— Jedrick Wills Jr.®️++💕 (@JWills73) January 11, 2021
Smith-Schuster said after the game that he had no regrets about what he said.
“You know, I don’t regret what I said,” Smith-Schuster said. “I said, ‘The Browns is the Browns.’ They came out and they played a hell of a game. You know, there’s been games where we feel we lose them and today wasn’t our night and hopefully the same Browns will show up next week against the same opponent and go out and do the same thing they did tonight and have a hell of a game.”