FS Carter with back-to-back honors

PITTSBURGH – Lining up at free safety is paying off for Tyrone Carter. The 10-year veteran was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week ...

... for his performance Monday night as Ryan Clark's replacement against the Denver Broncos. Carter intercepted two passes and returned one 48 yards for a touchdown.

Carter filled in for Clark in Week 17 last season against the Cleveland Browns and intercepted two passes, one he returned 32 yards for a touchdown. Carter was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after that game as well.

In his last three starts at free safety in place of Clark, Carter has five interceptions.

He also started for Clark in the 2008 game at Washington and the 2007 game at St. Louis. The Steelers are 4-0 when Carter, a strong safety most of his career, starts at free safety, but he explained that his success has nothing to do with the position.

"I'm out there with Troy (Polamalu). I think that's what it is. Troy rubs off on me," Carter said.

"See, on most of those picks Troy's supposed to be in those areas and he switches with me. He might see something and say, ‘Go down there. I'm going backside,' or something, and I end up getting the pick. ... When they look at Troy, they throw away from him and here I am with the opportunity."

CLARK WOULD'VE PLAYED

Clark told reporters Wednesday that he would've played in Denver had the decision been up to him, but that he's thrilled Coach Mike Tomlin chose to keep him on the bench.

"I'm standing here right now, no ill effects at all," Clark said. "I worked out before the game, got a lot of tests run, and this week I have more information about how my body's right without the spleen and the gall bladder.

"I think it was a real smart move by coach. I appreciate the fact that he did take it off my hands. It kind of gave me a way to breathe either way."

Clark said that when he and Tomlin met with doctors 11 days before the game, Tomlin told Clark he was "really leaning" toward not letting him play. Clark then realized he wasn't going to play as the week wore on and he wasn't receiving any practice reps.

As for why he would've played, Clark said, "I talked to my wife and she said she had peace about it. The doctors had cleared me. We had been talking about this since summer. They said I was all right. I wouldn't have played the whole game. I would've been on a pitch count, maybe play like third downs, things like that. But I wanted to play."

ZIGGY FLASHES

First-round draft pick Ziggy Hood made his most significant contribution to date in the win at Denver.

The backup defensive end pressured Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton into throwing the interception to Carter that resulted in a 7-3 Steelers lead.

"Wrapped him up and brought him down thinking he still had the ball," Hood said. "By the time I looked up, I saw Tyrone going the other way."

Later, in the middle of the third quarter with the Steelers leading 14-10, Hood pressured Orton into an incompletion on third-and-11 after the Broncos had moved into Steelers territory. Hood had a chance to sack Orton on the play, but he ran into teammate LaMarr Woodley, who was also poised for a sack.

"It makes you feel good knowing that you went out there and played well," Hood said. "But you also think about what else you could've done; maybe you could've gotten that extra step and actually gotten to the quarterback. That being said, this week coming up I'm going to go out there and try to get better."


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