Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/13/12

DOVE VALLEY, Colo. -- With just four opponents that had a losing record in 2011 on the schedule -- and none of those foes popping up until the second half of the season -- the Broncos have little chance for celebration, or even reflection, for the first few weeks of the season.

But the manner in which they turned back the Steelers is one they will likely have to repeat in future weeks if their Super Bowl aspirations are to become reality. Denver kept the Steelers off-kilter with a no-huddle offense that balanced runs and passes equally and used heavy pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to cause a three-and-out and a Tracy Porter interception after the Steelers had driven to a pair of touchdowns and a field goal on three consecutive drives that chewed up 20 minutes, one second of game time.

With perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey still an elite lockdown corner on the left side, opposing quarterbacks will throw in Porter's direction, which is why he ended up with eight tackles and five passes defensed against Pittsburgh -- 50 percent of the Broncos' entire total. Such extensive work for the Broncos' right cornerback was typical in recent years, and veteran imports Dre' Bly and Andre' Goodman both found themselves targeted by passers throwing away from Bailey at all costs.

But over five seasons with the Broncos, Bly (2007-08) and Goodman (2009-11) combined for just 15 interceptions in spite of the extensive work. Because Bly and Porter couldn't cash in on their chances, the Broncos had fewer interceptions (56) over the last five years than any other team, and a lower interception percentage (2.24 percent) than every team but Minnesota. Most significantly, the Broncos were tied with Carolina and Houston for the fewest interception returns for touchdowns in that span, with just three.

All of those numbers were incompatible with the opportunistic defense that the Broncos needed to complement the Peyton Manning-led offense -- and the one that was the quickest to construct with the returning talent on hand: a pair of Pro Bowl pass rushers (Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil) and Bailey. Enter Porter, who the Broncos pounced to add after signing Manning.

A successful season for Porter will likely involve him taking chances and getting beat from time to time, but also making some game-changing plays -- like his 43-yard return for a touchdown to seal the 31-19 win over Pittsburgh.

"That was at a critical time," added Broncos coach John Fox. "The guy has had an excellent camp. Obviously we liked him. Our personnel department did a great job evaluating him. He had a good first time out."

Porter had conceded a 3-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace earlier in the fourth quarter, but had the play properly covered. He'd been beaten, but not enough to where he was going to dial back his aggressiveness.

"There's a safety over the top so I'm aggressive on anything short," Porter said. "The quarterback tried to fit it in there and I just made a play on the ball."

The Broncos expect more from him against other pass-intensive opponents, even though he was anything but an interception machine during his four seasons with the Saints.

In those years, he logged seven interceptions in 43 games there, with four coming in 2009. But he had a knack for making his thefts count, and in a two-game span made the two most important interceptions in Saints history: a game-saving pickoff of Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC Championship Game and the game-clinching interception and touchdown of Manning in Super Bowl XLIV a fortnight later.

He's already sealed one game for the Broncos, and earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in the process. With the Falcons expected to attack Denver's secondary with a three-pronged attack of Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, he'll have plenty of chances to alter another game Monday.

"Any defensive back playing opposite Champ is going to get the work," Porter said.

That's why his celebration ended so quickly after his touchdown.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dwight Howard’s sister slams Hawks after surprise trade

Derek Carr signs five-year extension with Raiders

Roger Goodell makes it through the Boston airport

Knicks reportedly asking for too much in Porzingis trade

Report: Free agents view signing with Knicks as ‘absolute last resort’


Golden Knights owner screws up expansion draft order, announces a selection from the wrong team

Steve Kerr: Warriors will ‘get greedy,’ be even better next season

Report: Pacers in no rush to complete Paul George trade

Phil Jackson and Knicks are looking to trade Porzingis

Oscar De La Hoya: Dana White ‘disrespectful’ for timing of Mayweather-McGregor

Unlike with the NFL Draft, ESPN will allow reporters to tweet NBA Draft picks before they’re announced

Box Score 6/22: Emotion-filled Knight for Pens fans, Preds fans... and Knicks fans

The 'Golden Knights will begin with a Fleury of activity' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Ricky Davis Award for most irrationally confident shooter

2017 NBA Mock Draft

It's time for Satchel Paige Day in Major League Baseball

Which vets the Vegas Golden Knights should build around

Box Score 6/21: Summer of NBA trades heats up

For Giants, failure to act could be the gravest error in a season full of them

Scouting the 2017 NBA Draft

The 'Diana Taurasi, greatest of all-time' quiz

Ranking the No. 2 overall NBA Draft picks in the lottery era

Box Score 6/20: NBA annual drama season off to fiery start

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Golden Knights will begin with a Fleury of activity' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Ricky Davis Award for most irrationally confident shooter

It's time for Satchel Paige Day in MLB

Which vets the Vegas Golden Knights should build around

The Giants' failures for 2017 are complete, time to think of the future

Scouting the 2017 NBA Draft

The 'Diana Taurasi, greatest of all-time' quiz

Ranking the No. 2 overall NBA Draft picks in the lottery era

The 'Process is shown to be trustworthy once again' quiz

Diana Taurasi setting the WNBA all-time scoring record is another leap for the league

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker