The Steelers looked like they had the game won. They were leading the Eagles 23-21 with 12 seconds left in the game. But Andy Reid called on kicker Alex Henery to boot a 51 yard field goal, and Henery delivered. Game over. Steelers lose.
Of course, nobody really cares who wins the first preseason game of the year. After all, the purpose of the game is to get an opportunity to see the young players under game conditions. Winning or losing is a secondary concern.
Despite the loss, there were some important things that we saw in the game.
The first thing that we saw was that Ben Roethlisberger looks good in Todd Haley’s offense. He only played in one series, but Big Ben completed 7 0f 8 passes for 49 yards.
Just as we’ve seen in training camp, Ben threw mostly short passes. That’s a big departure from the long downfield passes that he used to throw to Mike Wallace when Bruce Arians was the offensive coordinator.
Haley’s new offense may have taken a hit when fullback David Johnson left the game with an ACL injury. Preliminary reports say that he may be lost for the season. Unlike Arians’ offense, Haley’s offense sometimes uses a fullback to block. But with the loss of Johnson, the Steelers are left with only one fullback on the roster.
Rookie tackle Mike Adams also left the game with a knee injury. But reports from the team say that the injury is minor. Running back Jonathan Dwyer also left the game with an injury that doesn’t appear to be significant.
In addition to Haley’s new offense, fans also got to see the offensive line for the first time. And frankly, they didn’t look good. Big Ben was sacked twice, despite only playing one series. Byron Leftwich was also sacked twice when he came in to replace Roethlisberger. And rookie left tackle Mike Adams was responsible for 2.5 of the sacks during the game. That’s not a good performance by the young guy.
But what was good was rookie running back Chris Rainey. He caught a short pass, and turned it into a 57 yard touchdown. Based on what we’ve seen so far, this kid has the potential to be absolutely electrifying.
Another highlight was Baron Batch. Batch got plenty of opportunities to work of the rust from a season spent on injured reserve. Batch led the team with 19 carries, and he converted those carries into 41 yards.
Jonathan Dwyer also turned in a 33 yard run in his limited action. He ended the game with 2 carries for 40 total yards. That’s not a bad night.
On defense, nose tackle Steve McLendon recorded a sack on Michael Vick. That’s pretty impressive because Vick is very elusive. More importantly, it’s one more sack than we’ve seen from Casey Hampton in years.
Overall, I’m not drawing many conclusions from this game. But the one conclusion that I did draw was that I want to see more of Chris Rainey.