August 14, 2009
By Donald Starver
Thursday’s Super Bowl rematch turned out to be not so super. While fans are always anxious for the start of a new NFL season, the early pre-season games are always rather dull. This game proved to be no different.
The Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 20 – 10. However, the score sounds much more exciting than the game actually was.
As expected, the Steelers starters played very little. Big Ben completed 4 of 6 passes for a whopping 33 yards. Hines Ward caught 2 passes for 19 yards, while Santonio Holmes caught none.
But of course these games aren’t for the veterans. After all, we already know what they can do. Rather, the early pre-season games are an opportunity for the young players to show what they can do. So let’s look at how the young players did.
Limas Sweed – Following an infamous dropped pass in last year’s playoffs, Limas Sweed has been heavily scrutinized by Steelers fans. He needed a good game, and he delivered. Sweed only caught two passes, but they both had a fairly high degree of difficulty. Moreover, he averaged 28 yards per reception, and his longest was a 45 yard catch.
Shaun McDonald – The free agent from Detroit led all receivers with 69 receiving yards.
Joe Burnett – Rookie cornerback Joe Burnett caught his first NFL interception and almost ran it back for a touchdown.
Ziggy Hood – The Steelers’ first round draft pick collected his first NFL sack.
Isaac Redman – The free agent running back made a strong statement that he should be the Steelers’ short yardage back. He has been the most impressive in training camp, and this game proved to be no different. Redman led all Steelers backs in rushing yards, while also scoring 2 touchdowns.
Dan Sepulveda – No more Berger. No more Ernster. Nope, Dan the man is back. Sepulveda punted 6 times and averaged 49.5 yards per punt. That’s much better than the 12 yards per punt that Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster averaged last season (okay, maybe they averaged more than 12 yards per punt, but it certainly seemed like 12 yards).
Rashard Mendenhall – Did he even play? I see his name in the box score, but I certainly don’t remember seeing him do anything.
Joe Burnett – Yeah, he made an interception. But he also fumbled a punt return. He’s not going to win a job like that.
Frank Summers – Everyone is waiting for Frank “the tank” to become the next bus. However it’s undrafted free agent rookie Isaac Redman who’s scoring all the touchdowns.
Piotr Czech – It’s going to be almost impossible to displace Jeff Reed as the Steelers’ kicker. Czech is going to have to be perfect in order to do it. Missing a 36 yard field goal didn’t look like perfection to me.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Steelers’ offensive line didn’t allow any sacks. Not one (yeah, I don’t believe it either). That’s got to count for something. Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ offensive line allowed their quarterbacks to be sacked 4 times. It’s too soon to draw any conclusions yet, but I’ll take any opportunity I can to compliment the Steelers’ o-line.
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