ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the NFL, the mantra is anything can happen any given Sunday.
That's a fact that's all-to-familiar to Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen. Allen has witnessed first-hand the unpredictable nature of the NFL playoffs. Last year, when he was on the staff of the defending Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints, he saw the 7-9, NFC West-champion Seattle Seahawks capitalize on their home-field advantage en route to an unlikely first-round victory.
"It was really basically the same situation (as the Broncos are in)," Allen said. "We went on the road to go to Seattle where everybody in the media was saying they had no chance. Tony Dungy said they shouldn't even show up, and that's not the way it works in the National Football League. Everybody's got a chance on any given Sunday. We're thankful that we've got an opportunity to play again. We're going to take it one game at a time and see what happens."
Allen said both he and Head Coach John Fox have talked to the team regarding that game and others they have been a part of as the 8-8 Broncos play host to the 12-4 Steelers Sunday.
As the players have been saying all week, everyone starts fresh in the playoffs with a 0-0 record.
"Yeah. I told the guys, and Coach Fox even brought it up," Allen said. "I was in that same exact situation, except I was on the other end. We were the big, bad Saints, supposed to go in there and win the game. It was going to be easy for us, and there's never an easy game in the National Football League. I don't care what the score says. It's always hard, so our guys are prepared to play to a really good Pittsburgh Steelers team."
MCCOY, BRONCOS PREPARE FOR STEELERS D
In terms of defensive coordinators, few have the aura of the Steelers' Dick LeBeau.
LeBeau, who is in his 53rd year in the NFL, has made his name trotting out defenses that resemble brick walls. This year was no different, as the Steelers rank No. 1 in total defense and pass defense.
Broncos Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy has spent all week devising a plan to try to break down the Steelers defense that even with the absence of their leading tackler in safety Ryan Clark, is still formidable.
"This team traditionally for years with Coach LeBeau has been outstanding," McCoy said. "When someone goes down, someone steps up and steps in, and they don't skip a beat. They've done a great job on personnel for a number of years every time I can remember from watching them. Coach LeBeau is an outstanding football coach. They are well-prepared. They're very disciplined. They don't make a lot of mistakes, and they fly around. They play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
McCoy said that while the defense can sometimes dictate the passing game on certain plays, a lot of the coaching and play-calling depends on the flow of the game. He doesn't have a set formula to get quarterback
However, McCoy is still comfortable with the offensive system that has been working for the Broncos in the last few months of the season, in which they've gone 7-4. But in order for them to be successful against the Steelers defense, they need to limit their turnovers. During their six-game winning streak, the Broncos had five total turnovers. In the past three games -- all losses -- they've had nine.
"The one thing you're going to look at, too, is we've turned the ball over the last couple weeks, and that's something that when we were winning games, we weren't turning the ball over," McCoy said. "The system is still in place. We're running a lot of the same plays, concepts, schemes -- whatever you want to call it -- when we were winning the football games. What it comes down to is just our entire football team doing a better job and just tightening up a little bit and getting it done."
Here is the injury report from Thursday.
For the Broncos:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: Safety
LIMITED: Wide receiver
For the Steelers:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: Cornerback Cortez Allen (shoulder), linebacker James Harrison (toe), defensive end Brett Keisel (groin), running back Mewelde Moore (knee), safety Troy Polamalu (calf), center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle).
LIMITED: Tackle Jonathan Scott (back).
FULL: Guard Doug Legursky (shoulder), linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring), quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ankle).