Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers

* Time: Sunday, 9:30 a.m.

* TV: Channel 4.

* Radio: KNX (1070).

* Records: Broncos 14-4, Steelers 12-5.

* The Line: Steelers by 1 1/2.

* Broncos by the numbers (with NFL ranking):

Offense--367.0 (1st)

Passing--218.4 (9th)

Rushing--148.6 (3rd)

Defense--291.9 (5th)

vs. Pass--179.3 (5th)

vs. Rush--112.7 (16th)

* Steelers by the numbers (with NFL ranking):

Offense--346.4 (6th)

Passing--191.4 (23rd)

Rushing--154.9 (1st)

Defense--294.1 (6th)

vs. Pass--211.7 (18th)

vs. Rush--82.4 (1st)

* Storyline: Steeler Coach Bill Cowher doesn’t go by the book, he discarded that long ago. His first victory as Steeler coach in 1992 resulted largely from a successful fake punt attempt in Houston, and he is not afraid to make decisions that fly in the face of conventional coaching logic. This season, Cowher has made a habit of going for it on fourth-and-short situations no matter the field position, doing so from his own 34-yard line in a tie game against Arizona on Nov. 30.

Denver lost to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, dropping pass after pass--Coach Mike Shanahan estimated the Broncos had 10-11 drops--as promising drives repeatedly stalled. “But that game might have set the tone for our own team, because it taught us we can’t drop balls and win big games,” Shanahan said after the Broncos’ 14-10 victory Sunday in Kansas City, where they also lost earlier this season.

* Broncos on the road in playoffs: Denver is 1-5 on the road in NFL postseason history, its only victory over Cleveland in the 1986 AFC championship game.


* Steelers at home in playoffs: Pittsburgh is 12-4 at home in NFL postseason history and hasn’t played the Broncos in the playoffs since losing to them at Denver, 24-23, in the 1989 AFC championship game.

* They said it: Bronco Neil Smith: “We have to go into another hostile environment, to play a team that beat us soundly. The critics said we aren’t a good road team, but the regular season is over. It’s all how you play in the postseason.”

* How they got here: Pittsburgh won the AFC Central division and defeated New England, 7-6, in the playoffs. Denver gained a wild-card entry into the playoffs, and has defeated Jacksonville and Kansas City in the playoffs. Denver is 0-4 in the Super Bowl. The Steelers won in their first four Super Bowl appearances before losing to Dallas two years ago.



Kansas City: W 19-3

at Seattle: W 35-14

St. Louis: W 35-14

Cincinnati: W 38-20

at Atlanta: W 29-21

New England: W 34-13

at Oakland: L 28-25

at Buffalo: W 23-20 (OT)

Seattle: W 30-27

Carolina: W 34-0

at Kansas City: L 24-22

Oakland: W 31-3

at San Diego: W 38-28

at Pittsburgh: L 35-24

at San Francisco: L 34-17

San Diego: W 38-3


Jacksonville: W 42-17

at Kansas City: W 14-10



Dallas: L 37-7

Washington: W 14-13

at Jacksonville: L 30-21

Tennessee: W 37-24

at Baltimore: W 42-34

Indianapolis: W 24-22

at Cincinnati: W 26-10

Jacksonville: L 23-17 (OT)

at Kansas City: W 13-10

Baltimore: W 37-0

Cincinnati: W 20-3

at Philadelphia: L 23-20

at Arizona: W 26-20 (OT)

Denver: W 35-24

at New England: W 24-21 (OT)

Tennessee: L 16-6


New England: W 7-6