Cornerback Mel (Supe) Blount and Safety Glen (Pine) Edwards also intercepted Oakland passes. It was Edwards' sixth interception, tying him with Safety Mike Wagner for the team lead. The Steelers lead the NFL in interceptions.
And a good thing, too. But if the Pittsburgh offense has not been as consistent as the defense, it has provided thrills. Three times Hanratty has entered a game and thrown his first pass for a long touchdown. In fact, 27% of Hanratty's completions have been scoring ones. And a remarkable nine of Shanklin's 23 receptions have been for six points.
So the offense has not offended heaven, whose influence works in mysterious ways. Thus it is that Steeler games this year have tended to hinge back and forth on wild assortments of breaks, the most providential ones being the Steelers'.
For instance, when Hanratty had to leave the Washington game after a rusher crunched his aching ribs, backup man Joe Gilliam entered coolly and filled the air with sizzling, often strikingly incautious passes. The Steelers caught three, the Redskins two, and that was a winning edge, thanks considerably to the Steelers' last defensive play. The Redskins' Larry Brown caught what might have been a game-winning pass on the Pittsburgh one, but Wagner hit him so hard the ball squirted away and Edwards caught it, and when Edwards fumbled it Wagner fell on it, and when Wagner lost it Greene recovered it. In effect that ball has been rolling all year, and the Steelers keep coming down on top of it.
Against Denver, Greene was out most of the game with a back spasm and the closest Edwards and Wagner came to getting together was when Wagner so nearly intercepted a pass that he apparently obstructed Edwards' view of the ball, and Edwards dropped it. In fact, the Steelers did not take the ball away from the Broncos once.
The Broncos said they were fired up after Offensive Tackle Marv Montgomery broke his leg in the third quarter. All the breaks seemed to go against the Steelers this time. They are better fighting their way out of poverty. That cushion didn't suit them.