Normally I would say that if your game plan is making Ben Roethlisberger beat you, you better come up with a new game plan.
Big Ben is the man. Within the next few years the guy will win the Super Bowl, the MVP and cure cancer.
Despite that, I still have to say: Ben, it's not your year just yet.
One reason that has allowed Roethlisberger to become one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league is that his team is a run-first program. The Pittsburgh Steelers ran the ball 549 times this year, while passing only 379. So right about the time most defenses huddle near the line of scrimmage to plug the run, is the time Big Ben unleashes a 60-yard highlight reel.
Fortunately – Denver's defense isn't most defenses.
The Broncos ranked No. 2 in the league in rush defense this season. The Steelers' offensive line is impressive, but the Bus (Jerome Bettis) is running out of gas and Willie Parker is a player, not a star. What that means is that this game will be won – at least if you're the Steelers – through the air instead of the ground.
Common sense says the Broncos should be panicking. After all, their pass defense ended No. 29 out of 32 teams in the NFL. Surprisingly, the Broncos actually look at that statistic as an advantage.
"We always want the quarterback to throw at us," cornerback Darrent Williams told the Denver Post this year. "We may give up a play here or there, but we're also going to make the big play."
Sounds crazy but it works. New England's Tom Brady threw for 341 yards against Denver, but he also threw two interceptions, one in the end zone. Denver gave up a lot of ground, but only 13 points.
Expect the same thing to happen when the Steelers come to Invesco Field at Mile High on Sunday. The Broncos didn't lose a single regular season game in front of the home crowd this year. They're not about to make this their first.
And if you're worried about the Broncos not finding the end zone – don't be. This team has always been a little unconventional. They have a fullback who has scored six times, but received only 21 touches. They use three running backs. Plummer should change his name to Plumber the way he looks lately. But this squad works better as a team than any one remaining in the playoffs.
The Broncos have choked so often in past years there's almost this uncomfortable feeling going around that it's inevitable the end is coming. Sleep soundly Denver, this is your year. Not Ben's.
Brett Okamoto is the Collegian's sports editor.