Prisuta's Further Review: Calm under pressure

What happened after halftime was as decisive as it was dramatic.

But how did it happen?

The Steelers' trailed 27-10 late in the second quarter and 27-13 at halftime against Denver on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.

Their 21-0 second half stole the show, sealed the deal and resulted, the players maintained, more from calm, calculated adjustments and productive exchanges between players than it did any outpouring of emotion in the locker room at the break.

"We just knew we weren't playing right," free safety Mike Mitchell said after the Steelers had finished off the Broncos, 34-27. "I actually huddled up (defensive end) Cam (Heyward), (strong safety) Will Allen and (cornerback) Will Gay right before halftime and said, 'Hey, nobody yell, this is a big game, there's no time for yelling. We gotta get it fixed and then go out there and play in the second half.'

"No one yelled. We acknowledged that we needed to get it fixed and we went out and played in the second half."

A couple of players also mentioned some words from outside linebackers coach Joey Porter that resonated.

And Mitchell admitted Heyward required some convincing to get on board with the no-yelling approach.

"A little bit," Mitchell said. "Cam's a screamer but in a good way. He's always doing it for the good of the team but at this point I just didn't want anyone that may have been feeling down to feel more down so I just wanted to say 'no screaming.'"

Heyward confirmed the remain-calm approach to halftime.

"We all just settled down," he said. "I don't think anybody played out of character (in the second half). I thought we all just kept battling and understood if we get the stops our offense can put up points.

"I think there were just a lot of mental errors and a lack of energy in the first half. We can't have that again but it was a great teaching too. Communication (was an issue in the first half) and then along with that the energy was just lacking because of it. We have to grow from that and gotta learn but you need these types of games and you gotta win them."

FOOL ME TWICE: Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. came in not having been beaten for a touchdown pass in the last two NFL seasons.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown's 16-catch, 189-yard effort included a pair of receiving TDs at Harris Jr.'s expense.

"He's the best receiver in the game right now," Harris Jr. said of Brown. "It was the best versus the best and he won."

Brown recalled his six catches for 51 yards and no touchdowns while spending much of the day battling Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in a 39-30 loss on Nov. 29 at Seattle after scorching the Broncos.

"It was definitely motivation," Brown said. "If you play this game long enough you get your butt kicked. It's always motivating to get back out there and get opportunities to work on my game and grow.

"It's good to take on challenging teams with great cornerbacks and great defenses."

ANY WAY YOU WANT IT: The Steelers attacked a defense that was No. 1 in the NFL in yards against (272.5), No. 1 in passing yards against (188.2), No. 1 in scoring defense (17.3 points per game), No. 1 in sacks (44) and No. 1 (tied) in defensive touchdowns (five, four on pick-sixes) by throwing the ball 55 times.

Only at Seattle (59 times) had the Steelers thrown the ball more often this season.

"The reason that we probably threw the ball more than usual was the defense they gave us," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "They gave us a personnel group that we kind of can't/don't want to run the ball on. They just stayed in it so we had to throw it.

"And when you have the receivers that we do, why not?"

The Steelers rushed for a season-low 23 yards.

Their 17 rushing attempts surpassed only the 14 times they'd tried to run the ball at Seattle.

And they still extended their streak of scoring at least 30 points to a franchise-record six consecutive games.

"We play Steeler football," running back DeAngelo Williams said. "We try not to let other defenses or other teams dictate what we do. Now, we do take what the defense gives us. But when we have No. 7 (Roethlisberger) in the game and the receivers and play-makers that we have and the offensive line blocking the way that they've been blocking, outer space is the limit for this team."

THEY SAID IT: "We're playing as a team. Offense, defense, special teams, we're bailing each other out. We're picking each other up. We believe in each other and it's a pretty fun, special feeling." _ Roethlisberger on the Steelers.

"He's the key. You put another quarterback in there and they are not the same." - Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib on Roethlisberger.

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