The Steelers' backups proved to be better, as running back Issac Redman, an undrafted rookie from Bowie State, scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to a 20-10 victory over Arizona.
Ben Roethlisberger, who threw a touchdown in the closing moments of Super Bowl XLIII to lead the Steelers to a 27-23 victory over the Cardinals in February, completed 4-of-6 passes for 33 yards as he and the rest of Pittsburgh's starters played just two possessions.
"I think it was OK," said Roethlisberger. "I think we had a couple of plays with breakdowns, but it just felt good to go against someone other than your own guys."
Arizona was equally careful with its starters, also pulling its first-team offense and defense after two possessions.
Steelers second-string quarterback Charlie Batch, seeing his first game action since suffering a broken collar bone in the 2008 preseason, helped Pittsburgh to a 3-0 lead, throwing a 45-yard pass to second-year wideout Limas Sweed to set up a 50-yard field goal by Jeff Reed midway through the second quarter.
Arizona tied the game at 3-3 on a 29-yard Neil Rackers field goal on the final play of the first half thanks to a 40-yard pass interference penalty against Pittsburgh cornerback Anthony Madison on a deep pass from Matt Leinart to Sean Morey.
Cornerback Joe Burnett, a fifth-round draft pick, stepped in front of a pass from third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre – one of seven former Steelers on Arizona's roster – intended for wide receiver Jeremy Urban at the 45-yard line in front of the Steelers bench and returned it to the Arizona 3.
The 6-0, 230-pound Redman took the ball into the end zone from there on the first play of the fourth quarter, bouncing off a would-be tackler and into the end zone for a 10-3 lead.
Redman, who led the Steelers with 32 yards rushing, powered his way into the end zone from five yards out on Pittsburgh's next possession to give the Steelers a 17-3 advantage.
But linebacker Bruce Davis intercepted a deflected Palko pass with just over two minutes remaining to set up a 44-yard field goal by Piotr Czech for a 20-10 Pittsburgh lead.