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 last 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 2 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.
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 only three first downs and were outgained 183-54 in the first half.
An ecstatic Clark was among the first players to swarm Carter, the first defender to pick off a Kyle Orton pass all season. *