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The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Jesse Paul Jesse Paul: 303-954-1733, jpaul@den­ver­post.com or @JesseAPaul

ron­cos fans were scream­ing with joy Sun­day night af­ter their team won a wild, back-and-forth divi­sional play­off game against Pitts­burgh that at times left the or­ange faith­ful frus­trated and anx­ious.

Den­ver broke through late, scor­ing the go-ahead touch­down with three min­utes left in the 23-16 vic­tory. Soon af­ter, sup­port­ers were danc­ing, chant­ing and even cry­ing tears of joy as they left Sports Au­thor­ity Field at Mile High.

“It was a bat­tle,” said An­drew Tru­jillo of Pue­blo as he stood wear­ing a wig of curly or­ange hair and a smile plas­tered across his face. “We took care of busi­ness.”

“I never doubted my boys,” said Den­ver res­i­dent Jackie Ei­land.

At half­time, with Pitts­burgh lead­ing 10-9, fans hud­dled in the sta­dium’s hall­ways com­plain­ing about dropped passes (six) and an of­fense that seemed in­ca­pable of string­ing to­gether first downs.

“If we could catch a (darn) ball, we would be good,” said Rory Coonts of Thorn­ton.

Near the end of the game, the sell­out crowd that had been si­lenced by the Steel­ers much of the af­ter­noon sprung back to life with roars that shook the sta­dium’s seats. Run­ning back C.J. An­der­son plunged into the end zone to give the Bron­cos the lead with three min­utes left, set­ting off a wild cho­rus of cheers that came min­utes af­ter an­gry boos. It was as though a switch had flipped.

“I was a lit­tle wor­ried there for a bit,” said Lance Waite of Wind­sor, who came to the game be­liev­ing the Bron­cos would roll over the banged-up Steel­ers.

But af­ter Steel­ers quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger’s first throw, Waite re­al­ized that wasn’t go­ing to be the case. Roeth­lis­berger, who had in­jured his right shoul­der in a wild-card vic­tory the week be­fore, flung the ball over 50 yards. “He sent a mes­sage to ev­ery­one,” Waite said.

Steel­ers fans were ex­pected to come out in full force, but by game time, Ter­ri­ble Towel-wav­ing sup­port­ers were scant in the seats and their cheers were drowned out by a sea of or­ange­garbed fans.

“Thank you, sea­son-ticket hold­ers, for not sell­ing to fans for the other team,” Den­ver Mayor Michael Hancock said in a tweet dur­ing the game.

Co­rina Moya, a Pitts­burgh fan who drove eight hours from Arte­sia, N.M., said she was dis­ap­pointed by the lack of black and gold in the stands. She was ex­pect­ing a much larger pres­ence.

Nev­er­the­less, she had a pos­i­tive out­look af­ter the loss.

“I’m cool about it,” she said. “We (al­ways) sup­port our Steel­ers.”

Other Pitts­burgh sup­port­ers said they were at least proud their team gave the Bron­cos a tough game.

“The whole city of Den­ver re­ally didn’t think this was go­ing to be a game,” said Brian Sev­er­son, a black-and-gold fan who came from Chicago.

Bron­cos fans say they plan to be even louder next week when the Bron­cos host the Pa­tri­ots for a ticket to the Su­per Bowl.

“We got this,” said Brit­tany Kok­lich of Cen­ten­nial. “It’s in the bag, no prob­lem.”

RJ San­gosti, The Den­ver Post

Crissy Ni­cole, known as “The Foot­ball Lady,” ar­rived in style.

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