Ben Roethlisberger bounces back, Steelers fend off Broncos for much-needed win

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Don't write the Pittsburgh Steelers off just yet. 

With a pair of touchdown passes, Ben Roethlisberger showed flashes of the Big Ben of old to build a double-digit lead over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. And a Steelers defense that faded after a strong start picked up one last play to secure a much-needed 27-19 win.

The victory snapped a three-game slide and averted a would-be 1-4 start that would have likely spelled doom in a competitive AFC North. It also gave Steelers fans hope that talk of Roethlisberger's demise can be put on hold. 

For the first time this season, Pittsburgh's 39-year-old signal caller looked capable of making big plays in a 15-of-25 effort that tallied 253 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no turnovers. Both touchdowns arrived on downfield passes. The Steelers got on the board with a 50-yard strike from Roethlisberger to Diontae Johnson to give Pittsburgh a 7-0 first quarter lead. 

His second score was an 18-yard dart that split three Broncos defenders and found Chase Claypool in the end zone to extend Pittsburgh's lead to 24-6 in the third quarter. 

That score appeared to put the game out of hand. But Denver bounced back with touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to maintain the pressure. Facing a chance to tie the game in its waning seconds, Denver quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw an interception in the end zone to James Pierre Jr. that secured Pittsburgh's victory. 

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 10: Ben Roethlisberger #7 and Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrate a touchdown against the Denver Broncos during the second quarter at Heinz Field on October 10, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Don't write the Steelers off just yet. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Roethlisberger then knelt in victory formation for the first time since a Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills, a welcome sight in Pittsburgh in a season that was threatening to go off the rails. The Steelers offense struggled mightily through three consecutive losses since that win as Roethlisberger failed to make downfield plays. 

That wasn't a problem on Sunday. After entering the game with a career-low average of 5.5 yards per pass attempt, Roethlisberger averaged 10.1 yards per attempt against the Broncos. An offense that once slogged saw playmakers Claypool and Johnson both come up with big games. Claypool tallied 130 receiving yards and a score while Johnson tallied 72 yards to go with his touchdown. 

Meanwhile, Najee Harries tallied 122 yards and a touchdown on the ground as Pittsburgh's passing success opened up running lanes for the rookie running back. It was the type of balance on offense Pittsburgh needs if it plans to rally for a playoff run. 

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