This & That: Chemistry and details

  • Coming together: The Steelers defense, one that has drawn its share of criticism earlier this season when communication was an issue, has come together at the right time as they are preparing to face a tough Denver Broncos team in the AFC Divisional playoffs on Sunday.

Photos from the last matchup vs the Broncos at Heinz Field on December 20th, 2015.

"The defense has gained a lot of chemistry," said linebacker Ryan Shazier. "We are getting a lot better. We are starting to understand each other better. We went through some trial and error. We saw what worked and what didn't work."

Shazier knows that it's going to take everyone on both sides of the ball to be at the top of their game against the Broncos, and no matter who plays, everyone has to step it up.

"It's a team game," said Shazier. "We understand that. Coach (Mike) Tomlin emphasizes next man. If we want to do what we dreamt to do at the beginning of the season, and be the team that we want to be, guys have to step up. We just can't depend on one guy all of the time."

  • Tough test: Martavis Bryant is well aware of the challenge the Steelers offense will face this week going against the Denver Broncos defense, a defense that anticipates having all hands on deck this week including safety Darian Stewart and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. who are back after battling injuries.

"It's a great defense," said Bryant. "The No. 1 defense in the league. Especially having those guys back. They have a lot of confidence."

Manning up: Cornerback Anthony Chickillo and safety Robert Golden have both faced the legend that is Peyton Manning, and they both know he presents a huge challenge for the Steelers defense.

"He is a coach on the field," said Boykin. "He has seen everything throughout the course of his career. He is able to change plays just to have an advantage for his team.

"There are a lot of things you can do as a defense to help yourself, but tricking him, I don't think that will happen. Forcing him to throw a ball that you might have a chance to intercept, I think we are capable of that. He has had times this season where he has thrown interceptions. We just have to be where we are supposed to be. You just have to know what you have been doing and what your preparation is for the game and just play your game. Don't try to trick him or see what he is doing because that will work in his advantage."

Allen agrees that you can't focus on the ways Manning tries to throw a defense off, but instead just play the type of football you have been playing all season.

"He is a master of his technique and craft," said Allen. "He strives to be great every time he is on the field. He carries his team that way. He knows how teams are trying to attack him. You just have to be prepared for a guy like him.

"He has seen everything. You have to figure out a way to get after receivers and execute more detail than he does. We just have to play football and execute our defense."

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