NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 5 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Denver Broncos 19

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) runs after a catch as Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson (22) defends during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This wasn’t a perfect outing for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense, but the unit’s effort in a 27-19 victory over the Denver Broncos certainly represented its best performance of the season. 

The Steelers now enter next week’s Sunday Night Football game against the Seattle Seahawks with an opportunity to even up their record to 3-3 on the season after a late comeback push by the Broncos fell short on the goal line.

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Pittsburgh Steelers


Ben Roethlisberger’s day wasn’t quite as impressive as his stat line might suggest thanks to two potential interceptions that Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson wasn’t able to bring in. 

Roethlisberger on Passes of 20+ Yards Downfield

Week Adj. Comp. %
Weeks 1-4 28%
Week 5 80%

Big Ben found success when he decided to push the ball downfield. He went only 2-for-5 on throws 20 or more yards downfield, but two of those incompletions were charted as drops. Roethlisberger also drew a pass interference penalty on a deep end-zone target.

Running back

Najee Harris tallied 185 rushing yards across his first four NFL starts, but he racked up 122 on 23 carries against Denver. The offensive line did a better job of providing room to run, but Harris also created yards that weren’t there. He averaged 3.7 yards after contact per attempt with four missed tackles forced on the ground, pending final review.

Harris left the game late with a cramp.

Wide receivers/tight ends

Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool both provided Pittsburgh with multiple big plays in the passing game, including late when the Steelers needed a drive to ice the contest.

Those two combined for 202 of the Steelers’ 253 receiving yards in the game. Claypool continues to serve as Pittsburgh’s big-play threat, averaging 26 yards per reception against Denver. His 18 gains of 25-plus yards since the start of last season rank sixth among wide receivers.

Offensive line

Roethlisberger’s quick release makes things easier on the big guys up front in pass protection, but this was still a strong showing for Pittsburgh’s tackles, Chukwuma Okorafor and Dan Moore Jr., with that caveat in mind. They combined to allow just one pressure, per PFF’s first-run analysis. 

The offensive line also deserves credit for what was arguably Pittsburgh’s best rushing performance of the season.

Defensive line

T.J. Watt bounced back nicely from his lowest PFF grade since 2018 last week against the Packers. He was credited with two run stops and three quarterback pressures, per PFF’s first-run analysis. 

Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh’s other star up front, added two batted passes.


Devin Bush came through with a big sack for the second straight week. But most importantly, neither Bush nor Joe Schobert gave up much in coverage. The two combined for 31 passing yards allowed, pending review.  


It was an up-and-down day for James Pierre, Pittsburgh’s newest starting cornerback. He allowed four receptions for 74 yards into his coverage (pending review), but he also came up with a few plays of his own, including the game-clinching interception in the end zone.

PFF Greenline uses exclusive game and player data to make projections on NFL game spreads, moneyline, and over/under.

Denver Broncos


Teddy Bridgewater put up more passing yards in the fourth quarter (176) than he did in the first three periods combined (112), helping Denver make a run at a comeback. 

Bridgewater’s 2.7-second time to throw was faster than his season average to this point (2.9 seconds), but it was the longest of any quarterback to face Pittsburgh this season. He didn’t have much success when holding on to the ball for three-plus seconds (4.3 yards per play on nine dropbacks).

Running back

Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III saw a similar number of opportunities in this game, but Williams was much more efficient on his touches.

Player Snaps Touches Total yards
Melvin Gordon III 36 11 43
Javonte Williams 25 11 86

Williams continues to be a nightmare to bring to the ground. He forced two missed tackles on his eight carries today, and he has now forced 19 missed tackles on 54 total carries this year.

Wide receivers/tight ends

Injuries at the wide receiver forced Kendall Hinton (of emergency quarterback fame) into the No. 3 wide receiver role today. Unsurprisingly, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick dominated the target share against Pittsburgh.  

Only 12 of Sutton’s 120 receiving yards came after the catch. Bridgewater consistently looked his way downfield.

Offensive line

The right side of Denver’s offensive line, Graham Glasgow and Bobby Massie, was the weak point for the Broncos. Those two tied for the unit lead in pass-blocking losses (three each), per PFF’s first-run analysis.

Defensive line

The Steelers were largely able to neutralize Denver’s defensive front. Von Miller was the only defensive player with multiple pressures, according to PFF’s first-run analysis, and he finished with only two. 

Shelby Harris made several tackles for loss or no gain against the run — one of the highlights from the group.


Alexander Johnson had a strong overall performance in this game, but he also left several big plays on the field in the form of two dropped interceptions. Johnson didn’t miss any of his eight tackle attempts and recovered a fumble. 


It was a rough performance for Kyle Fuller. According to PFF’s first-run analysis, he allowed all five passes thrown his way to be completed for 113 yards and a touchdown. Fuller was also hit with a pass interference call in the end zone that set up a touchdown plunge from Steelers running back Najee Harris.

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