Riches to Rags

None of Ben Roethlisberger's reserves distinguished themselves in the Steelers' 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos last night in the third preseason game.

After enjoying an embarrassment of quarterback riches through two preseason games, the Steelers watched the position turn to rags Sunday night in Denver as the Broncos returned two interceptions for touchdowns in routing the visitors, 34-17.

Playing with the first team for the first time this preseason, Dennis Dixon was intercepted twice – once in the end zone by Perrish Cox on a pass that should've been thrown away and later by Andre Goodman, who returned it 77 yards for a touchdown with 11 seconds left in the first half.

The Goodman touchdown gave the Broncos a 17-3 lead. They added a field goal for a 20-3 lead late in the third quarter after Byron Leftwich failed to complete a pass.

Rookie Crezdon Butler tried to get the Steelers back into it with a 40-yard interception return to the Denver 5. Another Steelers rookie, Jonathan Dwyer, scored two plays later on a five-yard run, but Denver rookie quarterback Tim Tebow countered with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to put the Broncos back on top, 27-10.

Charlie Batch followed Leftwich's 0-for-4 performance by throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to rookie Antonio Brown. But Batch then threw an interception to Syd'Quan Thompson, who returned it 48 yards for the game's final touchdown.

Statistically, Batch had the best night of the Steelers' quarterbacks. He completed 3 of 4 passes for 44 yards and a passer rating of 110.4.

Dixon posted a team-low rating of 33.9 by completing 9 of 16 passes for 94 yards. He was sacked twice and intercepted twice after replacing starter Ben Roethlisberger, who'd led the Steelers to a field goal and completed 4 of 6 passes for 67 yards.

Roethlisberger will meet Friday with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and will be informed whether his suspension of six games will be reduced to four games at the start of the season.

The Steelers were led on the ground by Dwyer, who overcame a slow start to carry 13 times for 89 yards. Rashard Mendenhall carried five times for 28 yards and Isaac Redman carried three times out of the fullback position for 11 yards.

On the injury front, Steelers linebacker James Farrior left the game following his tackle near the Steelers' goal line after losing his helmet. The head laceration required 6-8 stitches. The Steelers also lost reserve safety Da'mon Cromartie-Smith with a shoulder injury.

The Steelers were sloppy after the whistle. They committed four personal fouls in the first half alone. Keenan Lewis, who'd started in place of the injured Bryant McFadden at cornerback, was called for two personal fouls. After the second, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin yanked Lewis from the game and he didn't return until late in the game as a punt gunner.

The Steelers conclude their preseason schedule Thursday night at Heinz Field against the Carolina Panthers.

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