The Pittsburgh Steelers are now 2-0 in the preseason, after defeating the New York Giants 24-17. The Giants were without starting quarterback Eli Manning, who is still recovering from an injury received during the Giants’ first preseason game.
Though Eli Manning didn’t play, one quarterback who DID play was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben did not play in the Steelers first preseason game, but he was the starter for this game.
Ben looked a bit rusty, and the rust was evident in his statistics. Roethlisberger completed 6 of 8 passes for 76 yards. However he was sacked once, and he threw an interception during his short time in the game. And as he usually does, Big Ben held onto the ball waaaaaaay too long. Because of this, he was often running for his life. The Steelers’ porous offensive line didn’t help the situation. New York Giants players were constantly in the Steelers’ backfield applying pressure.
Big Ben ended his short stint in the game with a sub-par 64.6 quarterback rating, the lowest among the three Steelers’ quarterbacks who played during the game.
When the second quarter began, Roethlisberger was replaced by Byron Leftwich at quarterback. Like Roethlisberger, Leftwich was constantly under pressure. However, unlike Roethlisberger, Leftwich got rid of the ball.
On one play in particular, Leftwich made a play which we seldom see from Roethlisberger. Leftwich saw speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace racing down the field, and he threw the ball past him so that Wallace could run under the ball and catch it in stride. Steelers fans have gotten used to seeing Roethlisberger under-throw Wallace on his deep routes so Wallace usually has to come back to the ball rather than catch it in stride. Because Wallace was able to catch the ball in stride, the play resulted in a 68 yard touchdown.
Leftwich played the entire second quarter, and completed 3 of six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. His final quarterback rating was 135.4, the highest among the three Steelers’ quarterbacks.
In the second half, Dennis Dixon started at quarterback, and he played the entire half. Just like he did against the Detroit Lions, Dixon appeared to be the most effective of the Steelers’ quarterbacks. He marched the team down the field for touchdowns on both of his first two offensive series. Dixon also provided a running threat that neither of the other quarterbacks offer. On one play, Dixon broke a 22 yard run that he probably could have gotten into the end zone. However he was running along the sideline, and his momentum carried him out of bounds.
Dixon completed 7 of the 8 passes that he attempted. He ended the game with 82 passing yards and a 109.4 quarterback rating.
So just like in the Steelers’ first preseason game, Dennis Dixon made a strong argument for why he, rather than Byron Leftwich, should be the Steelers starter during Ben Roethlisberger’s 4-6 game suspension.
Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin may ultimately decide to go with Leftwich as the starter, but Dixon is certainly making his decision much more difficult than he anticipated.
Other points of interest:
- Punter Dan Sepulveda handled all of the kick-offs for the Steelers’ second preseason game. Sepulveda practiced kick-offs regularly during Steelers Training Camp, but was not called upon to kick-off during the team’s first preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Several of Sepulveda’s kicks seemed short. However, he did get 2 of his 6 kick-offs into the end zone, and one was downed for a touchback. Last week, Jeff Reed only got one of his 5 kicks into the endzone, and none were downed for touchbacks.
- Rookie Antonio Brown handled the majority of the Steelers’ kick and punt return duties last night. He averaged 10.8 yards on 4 punt returns, the longest of which was for 18 yards. He also averaged 25 yards on 2 kickoff returns.
- Isaac Redman once again made a strong case for being the backup to starting running back Rashard Mendenhall. Redman rushed for 34 yards on six carries. He also scored a touchdown.
- Justin Vincent was the Steelers’ leading rusher with 37 yards on 6 carries. However, most of his carries came in the 2nd half against the Giants’ second and third string defenses
- Rashard Mendenhall didn’t look particularly impressive running the ball. He carried the ball 8 times for a total of 11 yards. His 1.4 yards per carry was the lowest among the Steelers’ running backs. He also continues to do that annoying spin move anytime he senses contact coming. Mendenhall almost seems reluctant to face contact head-on.
- Steelers’ cornerback Ike Taylor was ejected from the game after getting in a fight in the opening minutes of the game. Dumb, Ike. Really dumb.
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