PITTSBURGH (AP)—Ben Roethlisberger never got off the bench in a return to Heinz Field that couldn’t have been much quieter. Byron Leftwich probably wishes he had stayed on the sideline, too.
Leftwich, the quarterback who will replace the suspended Roethlisberger when the season starts, was ineffective despite playing much longer than expected, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still beat the Detroit Lions 23-7 behind backup Dennis Dixon on Saturday night.
|MAKING AN IMPRESSION—Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon scrambles for a first down in the third quarter quarter of the NFL preseason football game against the Detroit Lions Aug. 14 at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 23-7.
Leftwich was outplayed by Matthew Stafford in the Lions quarterback’s first game action since injuring a shoulder against Cincinnati on Dec. 6. After Stafford left following a 2-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson, the Steelers came back from a 7-6 deficit as Dixon led scoring drives of 75, 79 and 68 yards with reserves playing.
Lightning and heavy rain stopped play for one hour, 13 minutes late in the second quarter.
When the rain finally let up, the teams played the final one minute, 37 seconds of the first half and then immediately began the second half with many in the crowd of 55,248 already long gone.
Leftwich was expected to play eight to 12 snaps, but instead played nearly twice that as coach Mike Tomlin was displeased with the offense’s first two series. Two running backs fumbled, Leftwich was sacked for 8 yards and also unintentionally spiked a pass as the starters gained only 16 yards in 12 plays.
Dixon, playing two quarters, threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to sixth-round pick Antonio Brown midway through the fourth quarter while going 6 of 7 for 128 yards. He also ran six times for 31 yards.
Dixon’s 51-yard completion to Arnaz Battle with Eric King in coverage led to Isaac Redman’s 1-yard touchdown run during the second quarter. Redman, a free agent from Bowie State who first made a splash during last year’s training camp, carried 15 times for 60 yards and appears to be the frontrunner to back up starter Rashard Mendenhall.
Defensive end Ndamukong Suh, the No. 2 pick in the April draft who signed for a guaranteed $40 million, played briefly but made no tackles.