After their Week 12 showdown in Denver, the Broncos moved slightly up the AFC ladder, while the Steelers slid down.
In order to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Denver Broncos had no choice but to tackle a very tall task in Week 12.
Coming into Sunday with their season teetering on the edge, the Broncos had to find a way to snap the Pittsburgh Steelers’ five-game winning streak. Given how Pittsburgh had played over its last five games, with Ben Roethlisberger returning to Pro Bowl form and James Conner coming into his own as a young star, it was certainly no walk on the beach.
But behind a 110-yard rushing performance from Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos managed to unhinge the Steelers 24-17, sealing the deal when Shelby Harris picked off Roethlisberger in the end zone with just over a minute to play.
The outcome of the game had a big impact on the postseason scenarios for both Denver and Pittsburgh. For the Broncos, it moved them to 5-6 and kept them alive in a tightly-contested wild card race in the AFC. This win doesn’t even come close to guaranteeing them anything, but if nothing else, it gives them hope for at least one more week.
Had Denver not pulled out that win, they would be 4-7 and the playoffs would more or less be out of reach. But even still, the Broncos have a long way to go yet, as Baltimore, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Miami, Cincinnati and even Cleveland (sort of) are all right there with them trying to snag that final AFC wild card.
As for the Steelers, they are still in position to win the AFC North, although they are now only 1.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Ravens, who have yet to lose a game with Lamar Jackson at quarterback. The loss in Denver also dropped the Steelers from the two-seed in the AFC to the four-seed — behind Kansas City, New England and Houston — meaning they wouldn’t receive a first round bye in the playoffs.
There is still plenty of football to be played yet this season, however, so it will be interesting to see how the playoff picture continues to shake out as we head into December.