Duck-and-chuck re-emerges up north
TORONTO -- Dragging two NFL franchises to Canada to play a preseason game made about as much sense as two guys wearing No. 64 fist-bumping on the same sideline prior to kickoff.
You don't see either event very often, but both occurred Thursday night.
The Steelers and Buffalo Bills had at one another in Rogers Centre, the facility formerly known as SkyDome.
And before they did, Steelers defensive lineman Jordan Reffett and Steelers offensive lineman Doug "Bronko" Legursky, both of whom sport No. 64, had their moment.
They also opened the retractable roof for pregame warm-ups, and then closed it again before kickoff.
You don't see that every day, either.
Soon thereafter, things returned to normal.
That wasn't necessarily a good thing for the Steelers.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played longer than he had in the preseason opener, as anticipated, and he also got in more of a workout.
The offensive line saw to that.
Roethlisberger wasn't sacked, but he was flushed from the pocket on four of his first eight passing attempts over his first two series.
The other four attempts consisted of a three-step drop out of shotgun formation, a flanker screen, another three-step drop and a traditional screen.
In other words, when Roethlisberger really needed time early, he didn't get any.
A couple of plays were nonetheless made under such duress, but only a couple.
Roethlisberger eluded defensive end Chris Kelsay on the Steelers' first play of the game and found tight end Matt Spaeth for a 7-yard gain.
Roethlisberger escaped defensive end Aaron Schobel and turned potential trouble into a 19-yard completion to wide receiver Hines Ward.
And Roethlisberger was chased again by Schobel; this time the heat resulted in a tip-pick executed by Bills defensive backs Ko Simpson and Donte Whitner.
The fourth time Roethlisberger found himself polishing his improvisational skills, he threw the ball away.
The execution was flawless, but the timing could have been better, seeing as how it was third-and-10 from the Buffalo 45-yard line. It wasn't the ideal instance to give up on a play to live to fight another day, no matter how hard Roethlisberger has been working to add that to his routine.
By the Steelers' third series, the pocket was finally forming with regularity and Roethlisberger was finally able to throw darts, one for 24 yards to Ward and one that went for a 40-yard touchdown to wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
The Steelers have that modest success to build upon after what has to be classified as a backward step.
The offensive line had a relatively clean opening outing against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the exchange rate wasn't what the Steelers needed it to be this time, particularly when penalties against center Justin Hartwig (holding) and guard Chris Kemoeatu (false start) are considered.
Hartwig replaced Sean Mahan with the first group this time, but at first glance seemed more guilty by association than anything else.
The group as a whole is still a question mark, on either side of Niagara Falls.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Taylor ‘hurt’ by pay cut
- Steelers among teams using new helmet-camera technology
- Veteran receiver Moore making seamless transition with Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin relents, gives players slight respite
- Kovacevic: Steelers’ offensive identity, anyone?
- Ex-player’s book details Steeler havens across country