Hines Ward grabbed a 3-yard TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger to give the turnover-prone Pittsburgh Steelers a 14-10 lead over the Denver Broncos through three quarters Monday night.
The Steelers had two big drives thwarted by turnovers.
With Pittsburgh at the Broncos 15 late in the third, Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone by Andre' Goodman on a pass intended Ward.
Earlier, Roethlisberger was hit from behind by Kenny Peterson, the ball flying free. Broncos rookie Robert Ayers scooped it up off the turf and ran 54 yards for a score.
It was the longest scoring fumble return by a Broncos rookie in team history.
The Steelers surged right back, finding an offensive rhythm that was lacking in the first half when they had only 54 total yards. Roethlisberger led the team on a four-play, 80-yard scoring drive that culminated with Ward's catch in the back of the end zone. It was his third touchdown of the season.
Pittsburgh scored a defensive touchdown in the second quarter when Tyrone Carter intercepted a Kyle Orton pass and raced 48 yards for the score.
Carter was filling in for safety Ryan Clark after the team elected to hold Clark out rather than take a risk with his health.
Clark nearly died after a game in the Mile High City two years ago because of a rare blood disorder that is aggravated by playing in high altitude. Clark had his spleen and gall bladder removed in separate operations following the Steelers' loss in Denver in 2007.
Orton tried to avoid the Steelers rush early in the second quarter and deliver a pass to rookie running back Knowshon Moreno over the middle. But the ball sailed high and Carter caught it in stride, no one touching him on his way to the end zone.
One of the first players to greet Carter on the sideline after the play was Clark, who celebrated with his replacement.
This was Orton's first interception by a defender all season. He was picked off once before, but it was by wide receiver Randy Moss at the end of the first half against New England on Oct. 11.
Following the turnover for a touchdown, the Broncos regrouped and drove down the field. Facing fourth-and-5 at the Pittsburgh 39, Denver converted when Brandon Stokley hauled in an 8-yard pass.
But left guard Ben Hamilton was flagged for holding James Harrison, negating the play.
Instead, the Broncos had to punt.
The Broncos' defense held up their end in the first half, bottling up the Steelers' offense. Pittsburgh managed just three first downs.
Matt Prater connected on a 40-yard field goal on Denver's opening drive, giving the Broncos a 3-0 lead.
It was the first time this season that Denver has come away with points on its first possession.
Brandon Marshall made a colorful appearance as he wore neon orange cleats. Marshall has nine catches for 97 yards through three quarters.
The Broncos moved the ball down the field via the air on their opening drive. Eddie Royal was the beneficiary as he caught three passes for 47 yards.
Pittsburgh's opening drive stalled when Roethlisberger was sacked by Elvis Dumervil and Darrell Reid on a third-and-4 play at the Steelers 37.
Dumervil has 10 1/2 sacks this season.
Under first-year coach Josh McDaniels, the Broncos (6-1) are one of the surprises of the league so far this season. They're coming off a loss at Baltimore last weekend. Pittsburgh (5-2) has reeled off four straight wins since starting the season 1-2.