Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Jeff Reed connected on three field goals to help the Pittsburgh Steelers take a 23-7 win over the Detroit Lions in the preseason opener for both squads.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, coming off an offseason that saw him plagued by legal troubles, did not play in the game. He will miss the first six games of the regular season as he was suspended by the NFL under the personal-conduct policy, but he is allowed to participate in training camp and the preseason.
Byron Leftwich started under center and went 6-for-10 for 43 yards for the Steelers, who failed to make the playoffs last season due to a 9-7 record, finishing third in the AFC North. Isaac Redman had 15 carries for 60 yards and a score while Antonio Brown had three catches for 84 yards and a score.
Matthew Stafford went 8-for-11 for 61 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Lions, who finished last season with a mark of 2-14, last in the NFC North and second-worst in the NFL. Calvin Johnson had two catches for 10 yards and a score while rookie Jahvid Best had six carries for 29 yards.
Reed kicked a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter to stake Pittsburgh to a 3-0 lead, but Johnson hauled in a two-yard touchdown catch early in the second to give the Lions a 7-3 advantage.
Reed later added a 37-yard field goal and a one-yard run from Redman gave Pittsburgh a 13-7 lead heading into the half, which began with 1:37 left in the second quarter due to heavy thunderstorms that were pounding the area.
Reed booted a 32-yard field goal for the only points of the third quarter to give the Steelers a 16-7 lead.
Brown’s 68-yard touchdown catch from Dennis Dixon in the fourth accounted for the final score.
The first quarter has come to a close with the Steelers leading 3-0. Both offenses clearly have work to do; some of the Lions have flashed signs of greatness (Jahvid Best just looks like he is one step away from payday every play) while others have had some bouts of boneheadedness (former Nittany Lion Derrick Williams calling fair catch on the 4 yard line with no one around him?).
As for the Steelers, both Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore have put the ball on the turf, but neither lost the fumble. Byron Leftwich has been less than impressive.
UPDATE: While typing this update, Matthew Stafford connected with Calvin “Big Freak” Johnson for a touchdown to make the score 7-3.
Byron Leftwich has just taken the field with the first team offense, signaling what many already guessed, that Ben Roethlisberger will not play tonight. Roethlisberger was cleared to play, but Mike Tomlin has elected to field the quarterback who will likely start on Opening Day.
(Sports Network) - Ben Roethlisberger will be back in uniform for the first time since his turbulent offseason on Saturday night, when the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and his Pittsburgh Steelers play host to the Detroit Lions in the preseason opener for both teams.
Roethlisberger made headlines of an unwanted kind in March, when a 20-year-old college student accused the quarterback of raping her in a bathroom at a Milledgeville, GA bar. No charges were filed against Roethlisberger, but the allegations and surrounding controversy led the NFL to suspend him for six games as a result of his violation of the league's personal conduct policy. Roethlisberger could have his suspension dropped to four games if he complies with certain provisions set forth by the commissioner.
Roethlisberger is eligible to play against the Lions and in all of the team's preseason contents, though it as yet unclear how the suspension might affect his playing time. Byron Leftwich, whom the team re-acquired in a trade with the Buccaneers during the offseason, is the odds-on favorite to win the starting job in Week 1. Veteran Charlie Batch and second-year-pro Dennis Dixon, both of whom have starting experience with the Steelers, will also be in the mix during the preseason.
The Lions, meanwhile, will be looking to make strides in the preseason after going a combined 2-30 over the past two years. The effort will start with fixing the NFL's worst defense, and in that respect head coach Jim Schwartz will be looking for an impact out of new defensive line lynchpins Ndamukong Suh (1st Round, Nebraska) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (ex-Titans).