DENVER Ben Roethlisberger gave way to his backups after a quick nights work. Now, he can get ready to make his case for a shortened suspension, too.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed during Denvers 34-17 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday night that commissioner Roger Goodell and the Steelers quarterback will meet soon, but he declined to say when or where the meeting would take place.
Roethlisberger was suspended for six games after being accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia college student in March. He was not charged with a crime in the case.
If Roethlisbergers suspension is reduced to four games, hell be back for their game against Cleveland on Oct. 17. Otherwise, hell be out until the Steelers visit New Orleans on Halloween night.
After Roethlisberger was pulled, Dennis Dixon got his first significant playing time with the starters. Dixon has started only one NFL game, and he is expected to be Byron Leftwichs backup when the season starts and Roethlisbergers suspension begins.
Dixon didnt make a good impression Sunday night, throwing two costly interceptions.
Rookie cornerback Perrish Cox picked off the first one in the end zone, a pass that Dixon should have thrown away. Andre Goodman returned Dixons second interception 77 yards for a touchdown with 11 seconds left in the second quarter that gave Denver a 17-3 halftime lead.
Dixon finished 9-of-16 for 94 yards, two interceptions and a pair of sacks by Robert Ayers.
Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton was shaken up in the first half and left the game briefly after taking a hit from linebacker James Harrison.
Orton tried to make the tackle after Harrison picked up a loose ball and rumbled toward the end zone in the second quarter. Orton tried to tackle him low, but Harrison put his helmet down and hit Orton on the back of the head and his left shoulder as he fell out of bounds.
While Orton was down, the officials huddled and ruled the play was an incomplete pass. Brady Quinn replaced Orton and was sacked on the next snap. Orton returned to the game on the Broncos next series.
Orton finished 9-for-14 for 80 yards with one interception, by William Gay.
Rookie Tim Tebow made his home debut for Denver. He missed last weeks game with bruised ribs he sustained on a 7-yard dart into the end zone on the games final play in his pro debut at Cincinnati.
Although Tebow saved the touchdown with a tackle at the 5 on Crezdon Butlers 40-yard interception return, Jonathan Dwyer (89 yards on 13 carries) took it in from there to cut it to 20-10 in the fourth quarter.
Tebow quickly atoned, driving Denver 74 yards in five plays, capped by a 3-yard TD strike to fellow rookie Eric Decker.
And Charlie Batch responded to that with a TD drive that made it 27-17 on Antonio Browns 7-yard scoring grab. But Batchs next drive resulted in a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown by rookie SydQuan Thompson that gave Denver a 34-17 lead.
Minutes later, Thompson returned a punt 62 yards.
Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior left the game after suffering a head laceration in the first quarter. Farriors helmet went flying when he helped stuff running back LenDale White for no gain on second-and-goal at the 2.
Farrior was led off the field with a towel pressed against the right side of his head, although he wasnt gushing blood like New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was after losing his helmet on a hard hit earlier in the preseason.
White scored a touchdown on the next play, his first for his hometown team that brought him into camp after injuries to Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter, neither of whom has played in the preseason.
The Broncos bottled-up ground game finally found some traction with Lance Ball gaining 75 yards on 10 carries.