Roethlisberger returns, Steelers beat Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If he was not the least impressive of the three quarterbacks that played in the Steelers' 24-17- win over the Giants on Saturday night, Ben Roethlisberger was the least efficient.
Playing in his first preseason game, Roethlisberger completed 6 of 8 passes for 76 yards and an interception. But in three series and 20 snaps, Roethlisberger could not get the Steelers into the end zone.
"It was fun to get back out there with the guys," Roethlisberger said.
The Steelers were trailing, 7-3, late in the second quarter when Byron Leftwich threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace. Leftwich, who is expected to start the first four to six games of the regular season while Roethlisberger is suspended, completed 3 of 6 passes for 95 yards.
Dennis Dixon, meanwhile, did his part to keep himself in the quarterback discussion.
Dixon, who played the entire second half, directed touchdown drives of 78 and 82 yards in the third quarter when the Steelers opened a 24-7 lead. He completed 7 of 8 passes for 82 yards.
Roethlisberger's best drive came on his final one last night at New Meadowlands Stadium.
He completed passes of 18 and 17 yards to Matt Spaeth and Antwaan Randle El, respectively, and moved the Steelers inside the Giants' 10-yard line early in the second quarter. The drive stalled, and the Steelers had to settle for Jeff Reed's 26-yard field goal.
"He moved us, and it was a good start," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Roethlisberger. "He got a decent amount of work; it was good. We'll see where we go from here."
Added Roethlisberger: "I think we showed some good things tonight."
Leftwich may have turned in the most impressive play of the night.
His throw to Wallace traveled more than 50 yards in the air, and it hit the second-year speedster in stride.
"I still had a little more left," Leftwich said of the prettiest throw of the night. "If he would have gotten a little bit further, I still would have got it to him. It was really good to get that in a game because we've been connecting a lot."
Asked to assess the overall play by the quarterbacks, Tomlin said, "We moved the ball. We produced some splash plays. We made some mistakes, game management, things that are typical of preseason. I like where we are, but by no means are we a finished product."
Justin Hartwig started at center and got the majority of the work with the first-team offense. Rookie Maurkice Pouncey also played extensively at the position.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis got some unexpected playing time with the starters.
Lewis replaced Ike Taylor after Taylor and Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks were ejected early in the game for fighting.
Tomlin was not happy with Taylor's scuffle and when asked about it he said, "Dumb."
"There's certain things we will not tolerate even in the preseason, like post-snap penalties. That's Steelers beating Steelers. That was very disappointing."
The Steelers' first-team defense yielded its first touchdown of the preseason, a 9-yard scoring run by Ahmad Bradshaw midway through the second quarter.
A 45-yard catch by wide receiver Steve Smith — he wrested the ball away from Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden — set up Bradshaw's touchdown.
The Steelers had some struggles in special teams. Aaron Ross returned a punt 45 yards late in the second quarter. Daniel Sepulveda, who brought down Ross, kicked off four times in addition to punting.
"I think Daniel Sepulveda did a nice job kicking off," Tomlin said.
On the injury front, Tomlin said the only one of significance was the concussion that Lewis sustained, which forced him to leave the game early.
Lewis said he does not expect to miss any practice time.
Steelers vs. New York Giants 8/21
Pittsbugh Steelers vs. New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium Saturday, August 21, 2010.