Steelers 28 Broncos 10
DENVER — Rarely has playing it safe paid off so well for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tyrone Carter started in place of safety Ryan Clark as a precaution Monday night and made the big play that sparked the Steelers to their fifth straight win, taking the first of his two interceptions 48 yards for a touchdown in Pittsburgh’s 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos.
Clark nearly died following a game in Denver two years ago because of a rare blood disorder that is aggravated by playing in high altitude, so Steelers coach Mike Tomlin decided to hold him out of the game.
He said he didn’t want to risk Clark’s health or burden his teammates and family members with worry.
“Ryan likes to play. He’s probably hacked off at me that I didn’t play him,” Tomlin said. “But he will get over it.”
He already is, apparently.
“My goal for this trip was to go back with the team on the plane,” Clark said. “Last time I came out, I didn’t make it back with them.”
Carter capped his night with his second interception with 15 seconds left, and Clark, dressed in charcoal sweats and a smile on the sideline, jumped up and down in celebration.
Hines Ward caught two short touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger, including one in which he hauled in a pass in the flat and hurdled cornerback Champ Bailey on his way into the end zone, a final indignity for Denver that capped the scoring with 1:22 remaining and emptied the stadium.
Rashard Mendenhall rumbled over the Broncos for 155 yards on 22 carries as the Steelers (6-2) handed Denver its second straight loss after the Broncos opened the season 6-0 under rookie coach Josh McDaniels.
Carter’s first interception return gave Pittsburgh a 7-3 halftime lead even though the Steelers had generated just three first downs and were outgained 183-54 in the first half.
With the Steelers clinging to a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter, safety Troy Polamalu snared another Orton pass, this one at the Broncos 25-yard line, leading to Roethlisberger’s 25-yard TD toss to rookie Mike Wallace.
But the Broncos had to settle for Matt Prater’s 40-yard field goal after cornerback William Gay broke up a pass at the 10 to Eddie Royal, who had three receptions for 47 yards on the 56-yard drive.
NOTES: Orton was 7-for-17 for 58 yards after halftime after going 16-for-21 for 163 yards in the first half. … 35-year-old CB Ty Law made his debut for Denver two days after signing with the Broncos.