Offense — B
The Broncos gained only 308 yards, but they played turnover-free, the offensive line did not have an enforced holding or false start penalty and running back Phillip Lindsay rushed 14 times for 110 yards (7.9-yard average). Quarterback Case Keenum was 15-of-28 passing for 197 yards and did a nice job avoiding pressure to make completions. Emmanuel Sanders had seven catches for 86 yards and one touchdown and tight end Matt LaCosse had his first NFL touchdown. The offense would have earned an “A” had they been able to run out more of the late-game clock.
Defense — B
Normally, allowing 527 yards would equal a failing grade… and a loss. But the Broncos were Exhibit A of a defense that gave up yards, but made game-changing and game-winning plays. They forced four turnovers — two fumble recoveries and interceptions apiece — that led to 14 points and the offense taking a knee at the end of the game. Two key statistics were third down (Pittsburgh was five of 14) and Antonio Brown’s production (his longest catch was only 14 yards). The rush defense did not allow a gain of more than 12 yards and that was a Ben Roethlisberger scramble.
Special teams — B
Last week, it was an executed fake punt that led to a touchdown. On Sunday, it was Justin Simmons leaping over the Steelers’ line to block a 48-yard field goal/. Punter Colby Wadman had a solid 46-yard net average on six punts and new punt returner River Cracraft caught three punts without an issue. The glaring negative was allowing a two-yard touchdown via fake field goal to end the first half when it appeared the Broncos had 10 men on the field.
Coaching — B
No game management issues for coach Vance Joseph in terms of timeouts and challenges. A hat-tip to Joseph for embracing the idea of sprinkling in a no-huddle offense in the first half. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is leaning more and more on Phillip Lindsay (14 of the 23 Broncos’ carries) and is dialing up shots down the sidelines to Emmanuel Sanders. The defense? Well, the turnover circuit used by the coaches during the week of practice is paying off.
DT Shelby Harris: He was credited with a half-sack, two other quarterback hits and the game-clinching interception with 1:03 remaining.
RB Phillip Lindsay: The rookie keeps on shining. He rushed 14 times for 110 yards, including carries of 32, 14, 12 and 18 yards.
WR Emmanuel Sanders: Playing his former team, he caught seven passes for 86 yards, including a 38-yard gain and a five-yard touchdown.