Stepping up big

A look back at a Steelers win over the Broncos in Denver.

Steelers 28, Denver Broncos 10

November 9, 2009

Invesco Field at Mile High

Defense dominates: The defense played without three starters, safety Ryan Clark, linebacker Lawrence Timmons, and defensive end Travis Kirschke, and still managed to dominate the Broncos en route to their fifth straight win.

The Broncos couldn’t get anything going on the ground, completely stuffed with just 27 yards rushing on 14 attempts.

It was a long night for quarterback Kyle Orton, who was intercepted three times, after throwing only one interception in his first seven games. He was also sacked twice.

It was the Broncos defense that was getting all of the press leading into the game, as they were the No. 1 ranked unit in the NFL at the time, something Coach Mike Tomlin frequently reminded his players leading into the game.

“Mike said all week we're going against the best defense in the world,” said defensive end Brett Keisel. “He kept reiterating that.”

Picked off: Clark was held out of the game because of a rare blood disorder that is aggravated by playing in the high altitude. It was discovered in 2007 when the Steelers played and Denver, and Clark had to have his spleen and gall bladder removed in separate surgeries.

With Clark out, Tyrone Carter got the start and delivered. Carter had two interceptions, including returning one 48 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-3 lead in the second quarter.

“I just like the opportunity to step up and show my teammates that I can make plays when my number is called,” said Carter.

His teammates noticed.

“I'm excited for him,” said Clark. “He did an awesome job. I'm just proud of him. I’m glad now I didn't play. Ty did an awesome job. I probably would have messed things up.”

It’s not the first time

“He's always been a playmaker,” said defensive back Deshea Townsend. “We tease him all the time that he's the only one of our defensive backs to win the Jim Thorpe Award in college. That's why they call it a team. Depth tells the true measure of any team. We've got a lot of guys ready to step in when their number is called. They just need an opportunity.”

Bounce back: Ben Roethlisberger had three touchdown passes in the game, but he had his struggles too. Robert Ayers recorded a strip sack of Roethlisberger in the third quarter, and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown, giving the Broncos a 10-7 lead. Roethlisberger also misfired on a pass to Hines Ward in the end zone, and it was intercepted by Andre Goodman, thwarting a touchdown.

What he did right though, far outweighed that, as the victory gave the Steelers a 6-2 record, tied for the lead in the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I think offensively we've got a long ways to go,” said Roethlisberger. “We made a lot of mistakes and we've got to keep searching for the ceiling because we can't play the way we've been playing and continually beat good conference teams.”

Speak up: Rashard Mendenhall carried the ball 22 times for 155 yards, against the No. 1 defense in the NFL that is.

“I don't think he realizes how good he can be,” said Hines Ward. “He's a special back.”

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