DENVER — The Pittsburgh Steelers' offense, after failing to score a touchdown during the first four weeks of the season, has now scored nine.
The offense had five in a 34-17 rout of the Denver Broncos Sunday, one week after getting four in a victory over the San Diego Chargers.
Quarterback Bubby Brister passed for four of Sunday's scores with three going to rookie tight end Eric Green.
"It was fun," Brister said. "Hell, that was more fun playing football than I've had in a long time. I had a blast. We were laughing at times."
Presumably, the Steelers were laughing at their own success and not at the futility of Denver's injury-riddled defense.
The Broncos, already without two starters--cornerback Tyrone Braxton and end Alphonso Carreker, who are out for the year with knee injuries--lost two more Sunday when cornerback Wymon Henderson suffered a rib cartilage separation and defensive end Jim Szymanski broke his right leg.
Henderson might be able to play next week, but Szymanski will be out eight to 10 weeks.
The Bronco offense was without the NFL's leading rusher, Bobby Humphrey, who did not suit up because of a sprained ankle.
While the Broncos (2-4) lost their third in a row, Pittsburgh (3-3) is on the upswing.
"For two straight games we've been able to muster some offense," Steeler Coach Chuck Noll said after a 451-yard output. "Bubby's able to handle the language (the terminology of new offensive coordinator Joe Walton) much better now.
"We know we played a team with a lot of injuries and one that is coming off a Monday night game, but that's football. We didn't change the game plan because of their injuries."
Louis Lipps had nine catches for 141 yards as he exploited the inexperience of Denver cornerbacks Elliott Smith and rookie Alton Montgomery.
"Louis is an outstanding receiver and they had a guy back there who hasn't played that much," Noll said.
Denver Coach Dan Reeves said his team couldn't compensate for a "makeshift lineup. We're hurting right now. We could not move the ball and could not stop them. Our effort thus far has not been pretty. The fans don't like it, but we are doing the best we can. I still think we'll be a factor before this season is over."
Brister's other touchdown pass was a six-yarder to Lipps, and Merril Hoge ran six yards for the fifth Steeler score.
Brister completed 21 of 28 passes for 353 yards.
Sammy Winder and Steve Sewell ran for touchdowns to give Denver a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter, but the Steelers then scored four consecutive touchdowns.
Pittsburgh began its comeback late in the first half, marching 55 yards in five plays for Brister's three-yard touchdown pass to Green with 1:14 left.
While the Broncos' offense misfired in the second half, Pittsburgh put together scoring drives of 65, 75 and 74 yards. Brister's 23-yard pass to Lipps set up Hoge's go-ahead scoring run with 10:06 left in the third quarter.
The Steelers squandered another scoring chance moments later after a 90-yard pass play from Brister to Dwight Stone. Warren Williams was hit and fumbled the ball into the end zone, and Denver's Tim Lucas recovered for a touchback.
Brister found Green again on a 10-yard toss early in the final quarter, but the extra point failed on a bad snap, leaving the Steelers ahead, 27-17. On the next series, Brister found Lipps for 33 yards and connected with Green on a three-yarder with 3:56 to play.
Defensive end Donald Evans returned a John Elway fumble 59 yards to the Denver 11-yard line in the closing seconds, but the Steelers allowed time to expire.