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(Monday, November 9th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 28, Denver 10
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Ben Roethlisberger threw for 233 yards and a trio of scores and Pittsburgh's defense came up with three interceptions of Kyle Orton in a 28-10 triumph over the Denver Broncos.
Tyrone Carter, starting in place of Ryan Clark, had a pair of interceptions, returning one 48 yards for a touchdown. Troy Polamalu's pick-off set up Roethlisberger's 25-yard scoring toss to Mike Wallace in the fourth quarter.
Roethlisberger connected on 21-of-29 passes and was picked off once as the Steelers (6-2) won their fifth straight game. Rashard Mendenhall rushed 22 times for 155 yards, while Hines Ward had a pair of TD catches as Pittsburgh controlled the clock in the second half. Santonio Holmes caught six balls for 93 yards for Pittsburgh, which next hosts Cincinnati in a battle for first place in the AFC North.
"It was a tale of two halves. The first half we didn't give our defense much rest, but we were able to keep them off the field in the second half," said Roethlisberger. "In the second half we went to a no-huddle and they only stopped us when we stopped ourselves; when we had a fumble and an interception."
Clark was inactive due to a blood disorder which makes it dangerous for him to play in high altitudes. He was forced to miss the remainder of the 2007 season after suffering a ruptured spleen following the Steelers' last game at Denver, in December, 2007. He also had to undergo surgery to remove his gall bladder and lost 30 pounds before making a full recovery. After Carter's second interception, with 15 seconds remaining, Clark jumped up and celebrated with his teammates.
"I might be like Wally Pipp. I better get back fast so that I don't lose my spot," joked Clark. "He's a friend and a teammate and he did an awesome job tonight. I'm proud of him."
Orton connected on 23-of-38 passes for 221 yards for the Broncos (6-2), who were coming off a 30-7 blowout loss at Baltimore. Brandon Marshall had 11 receptions for 112 yards, but Denver's running game was nonexistent as the Broncos combined for 27 yards on the ground.
"We certainly haven't run the ball very well the last two weeks, and we had trouble protecting the passer tonight," said Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. "There are a lot of things that go into that, and that is not just an offensive line thing or a tight end thing, or a running back. All 11 guys on the field have to work together to do that, and we certainly have not done enough the last two weeks offensively to help our team win a lot of games. We are going to need to improve significantly in that area and continue to work hard and get better."
Orton's pass sailed over the head of Brandon Marshall into the waiting hands of Polamalu, giving the Steelers the ball at the Denver 25 midway through the fourth quarter. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-10, Roethlisberger scrambled to his right before throwing over the middle to the goal line to a wide open Wallace for a 21-10 lead with 7:03 remaining.
Denver failed to get a first down on the ensuing possession and the Steelers iced the win with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that chewed better than five minutes off the clock. Ward took a bubble screen pass from Roethlisberger on the right side of the field and then leaped over Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey to score with 1:22 left.
Coming off the bye week, the Steelers fell behind 10-7 nearly four minutes in the third quarter, but held the ball for over 22 minutes in the second half to take control of the game.
Defensive end Kenny Peterson came around the end to knock the ball out of Roethlisberger's hand and Robert Ayers scooped up the ball and raced 54 yards to the end zone for a 10-7 Denver lead.
Pittsburgh needed joust four plays to respond for the lead. Roethlisberger passes 18 yards to Wallace, Mendenhall rumbled for 24 yards and Holmes caught a 35-yard pass to the Denver three. On the next play, Roethlisberger found Ward in the back of the end zone.
Andre' Goodman picked up Roethlisberger in the end zone later in the third quarter, but the Broncos failed to move the ball past midfield the rest of the night.
Matt Prater's 40-yard field goal capped the game's opening drive for Denver, but Pittsburgh went ahead 2:10 into the second when Carter picked off Orton's pass over the middle and rumbled untouched into the end zone.
"I just like the opportunity to step up and show my teammates that I can make plays when my number is called," said Carter. "We always emphasize making big plays to put our offense in good positions. If you score, great, but you want to create turnovers in order to put your offense in good field position."
Denver converted a fourth down pass later in the quarter to the Pittsburgh 31, but a holding penalty negated the chain movement and the Broncos punted.
"There is no panic here and we just have to get back to the drawing board and do what we have to do to make those proper adjustments," said Goodman. "We have to get back to getting off the field on third down in the second half, which we did a good job of in the first six games."
Denver plays on the road against Washington Sunday...Pittsburgh has scored at least 27 points in five straight games, a franchise record...The Steelers played minus defensive end Travis Kirschke (calf) and linebacker Lawrence Timmons (ankle)...Ward had seven catches for 44 yards...New Broncos cornerback Ty Law, signed this past weekend, had one tackle. He was matched up against Ward most of the night.
11/10 04:28:32 ET
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