Steelers fall to Redskins in preseason opener
LANDOVER, Md. — Ben Roethlisberger fired a 19-yard pass to Antonio Brown, transferring what the two have been doing at training camp to an actual game, albeit one that does not count in any standings.
That proved to be the lone highlight for the Steelers' first-team offense in a 16-7 loss to the Washington Redskins in the preseason opener.
Panic didn't grip the visiting sideline at FedEx Field since offensive stalwarts such as Roethlisberger, wide receiver Hines Ward, tight end Heath Miller and running back Rashard Mendenhall played just five snaps, calling it a day before the sun did Friday.
But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made it clear he was not happy with much what transpired in the Steelers' first game since Super Bowl XLV.
"Quite frankly, we got outplayed in just about all areas. Blocking, tackling, running, throwing, kicking," Tomlin said. "That team was better prepared than us. I look forward to this group responding. I'll expect these guys to respond to this. It needs to be better quickly."
There were a few bright spots for the offense, and Tomlin doled out some praise, though grudgingly, to wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Brown, the star of training camp, continued to serve notice that he does not intend to get lost among a plentiful group of wide receivers. Brown caught four passes for a game-high 64 yards, including a twisting grab of a Byron Leftwich pass in traffic.
That second quarter catch covered 29 yards and served as a catalyst for the Steelers' only scoring drive.
Isaac Redman, trying to carve a larger role, picked his way for 22 yards and a touchdown three plays later. Redman's run capped a four-play, 80-yard drive, a sequence that proved to be an anomaly on a night in which the Steelers couldn't convert on third down (they were two of 11).
Redman, entrenched as the Steelers' No. 2 back, led the team with 42 rushing yards on five carries.
The Steelers have a wealth of talent at the skills positions, and veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery will be added to the mix Sunday when he practices for the first time with his new team.
But, as in past years, the scrutiny will fall on the players that least want it.
The starting offensive line last night consisted of tackles Jonathan Scott and Willie Colon, guards Doug Legursky and Chris Scott and center Maurkice Pouncey.
Only Pouncey, Colon and Scott are locks — or near locks — to start Sept. 11 when the Steelers open the regular season in Baltimore.
"I'm trying to get my feet underneath me," said Colon, who missed last season with an Achilles injury. "I think I did OK, but I've got to work on some technical stuff."
The Steelers may spend the entire preseason sorting out their situation at guard. Chris Scott, getting the nod over incumbent Ramon Foster at right guard, looked overmatched and overwhelmed at times.
He missed an assignment on the second series, allowing Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen to bury Leftwich for a 10-yard sack.
Legursky moved from left guard to center when the second-team offensive line took the field. Scott stayed at right guard, and Foster played left guard. Kyle Jolly played right tackle, and Tony Hills manned left tackle and supplied a key block on Redman's scoring run.
Roethlisberger completed 2 of 3 passes for 22 yards. He overthrew Mike Wallace on a deep pass after Wallace had gotten a couple of steps on Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson.
"We were just flat," Wallace said. "I think we'll come back next week and improve. I don't think we're going to look too far into it because we're a lot better team than that and we're going to be ready to go by the time the regular season gets here."