PITTSBURGH — There was no explosion necessary, really. The Steelers didn't need to be reminded how badly they had looked while falling behind Denver by two touchdowns at halftime Sunday, even though linebackers coach Joey Porter decided to provide one anyway.
"I think everybody was (ticked) off," defensive end Cam Heyward said. "I don't think it was just Joey. We all knew we played (terribly) in the first half. We really just had to wake up."
The NFL's best offense provided the alarm clock.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 380 yards and three touchdowns as the Steelers rallied for a 34-27 win to move into the AFC's second wild-card spot with two weeks remaining. Antonio Brown caught 16 passes for 189 yards and two scores, and Pittsburgh dominated the NFL's best defense after spotting the Broncos a 17-point lead.
"If we take care of the ball, we feel like we can go up and down the field on anyone," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
Including on the "No Fly Zone," the nickname Denver's secondary gave itself, talk the Broncos have backed up for much of the year. Just not this time.
The Steelers controlled the second half, taking the lead for good when linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepted Brock Osweiler to set up a 23-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Brown with 3:24 to go.
Pittsburgh's defense, shredded easily in the first half, made it stand up. The Steelers twice stopped the Broncos in Pittsburgh territory over the final minutes.
"It's very disappointing," Denver coach Gary Kubiak said. "That's this business. You better be built for four quarters, not three."
Osweiler threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for a score, but he bruised his left shoulder in the second quarter and wasn't the same when he returned as the Broncos lost their second straight and failed to lock up the AFC West title. Osweiler was scheduled to have X-rays today to determine if there is damage. He completed just 7-of-26 for 84 yards after halftime, including the pick that set up Brown's winning score.
"You play 60 minutes, not 30 minutes," Osweiler said. "That is something we will work on and we will fix."