Beuerlein bounces back from rough beginning

Updated: October 12, 2003, 9:42 PM ET

DENVER -- For three quarters, Steve Beuerlein was out of rhythm but never out of sorts.

The ever-optimistic Beuerlein had faith he could turn around his sub-par performance, and he did when it counted.

Beuerlein, who threw two first-half interceptions while subbing for injured starter Jake Plummer, led the Denver Broncos to a touchdown and field goal on their final two possessions to eke out a 17-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

It might have been an ugly win, but Beuerlein preferred to see it differently.

"What wasn't pretty about it?" he said. "It was a thing of pure beauty, I thought, getting a `W.'

"I have a tendency to not look real pretty out there, but the team believed in me and the coaches believed in me and the guys came through and made plays."

The Broncos were clinging to a 7-6 lead in the fourth quarter when Beuerlein led them 52 yards in four plays for a touchdown. He completed a 38-yard pass to Rod Smith to set up an 11-yard TD pass to a leaping Smith in the corner of the end zone.

"I've been around a lot of great receivers," Beuerlein said, "but Rod is the most clutch, money player I've ever been around."

Pittsburgh countered with a touchdown and 2-point conversion, producing a 14-14 tie with 2:41 left, but Beuerlein went to work again.

He completed 5 of 7 passes for 44 yards on a 10-play, 51-yard drive that culminated in Jason Elam's 47-yard field goal as time expired.

Beuerlein got the start in place of Plummer, who aggravated a shoulder injury in last week's game against Kansas City and practiced sparingly during the week.

This was just the sort of reward Beuerlein hoped for when he allowed coach Mike Shanahan to talk him into returning for another season as a backup quarterback at age 38 instead of retiring.

"That's why I came back, to be in the locker room with these guys and to have that feeling of accomplishment when you get it done," he said.

Beuerlein refused to get down on himself after the two early interceptions, saying, "I'm too old to get too caught up in that kind of stuff. There was a lot of football still to be played, and I knew our defense was playing great.

"For whatever reason, I wasn't in a rhythm. The coaches realized that and we changed things up late in the third quarter, which allowed me to stand back there more comfortably and pick up some of their blitzes and do some things. The last couple of drives we got it going.

"In that two-minute situation, Mike put it in my hands to call a couple of plays, and we made some completions."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index