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Broncos look to rebound

MONDAY PREVIEW

Denver is coming off a road loss and has a tough test at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

November 09, 2009|Sam Farmer

It's usually just the visiting teams that have to adjust to Denver's altitude.

Now, the whole football world has to adjust to the notion that the 6-1 Broncos -- whose early demise was widely predicted before the season began -- are breathing the rarefied air of the NFL elite.

But to be considered a legitimately outstanding team, you have to be able to beat the best from time to time. The Broncos have that chance tonight when they play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the defending Super Bowl champions who followed a 1-2 start by winning their last four games.

The Broncos are coming off a 30-7 loss at Baltimore in which they crossed into Ravens' territory only three times and reached the red zone only once.

Just about every good team has an off game now and again, and tonight is Denver's opportunity to show last Sunday was just a hiccup.

"Any time you have a game like [the Baltimore loss], it forces you to look in the mirror," Coach Josh McDaniels said. "Hopefully, we can find out just as much about one another . . . through the adversity of a loss as you can through six wins."

Key for the Broncos will be containing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is second to Peyton Manning with a completion rate of 70.4%. For a franchise built on the philosophy of running the football, the Steelers are conspicuously inconsistent in that department. They rank 19th in rushing, averaging 107.0 yards per game.

Said Roethlisberger: "We're not the Steelers of the '70s."

Regardless, it's working for them. They're a team of big plays down the field. Roethlisberger has completed seven passes of at least 40 yards this season and leads the AFC with 8.8 yards per attempt.

"We've got to try to prevent his extension of the play," McDaniels said. "And if he doesn't extend it, we've got to cover longer than we're used to covering. Obviously, we can talk about it, but he seems to get out of the pocket every week."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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