Jacobs lone bright spot

Not much went right for the Steelers last night, but just about everything went right for rookie quarterback Omar Jacobs. He enjoyed his longest stint of the preseason and almost took the Steelers to their only win this summer. After the game, Bill Cowher had plenty to say about the big rookie.

PITTSBURGH – The smile on Omar Jacobs face wouldn't, couldn't go away.

"I was pretty happy with my performance," he said. "It was fun."

Finally. The rookie quarterback from Bowling Green finally played the way he knew he could, and his demeanor changed. There was a sense of relief.

Not that he made the team – which he may have. But Jacobs could finally hold his head up high. He played well, and at the moment the looming and final cuts were a million miles away.

"I'm not even going to be stressed out," he said. "I'm just going to have fun and enjoy it right now. If they cut me, they cut me. If they don't and I'm on the team, I'm happy and I'm pleased because I know I did my job tonight and I'm pleased."

Jacobs was a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal Steelers performance. They lost to the Carolina Panthers, 15-13, Thursday night to complete a winless preseason. But Jacobs nearly pulled it out for them. He threw a 46-yard pass to Walter Young to set up the game's only touchdown with 3:41 left. Carolina rallied to win as time expired when John Kasay kicked his fifth field goal of the game.

Jacobs completed 13 of 19 passes for 179 yards and a passer rating of 98.4. It was by far his best performance of the preseason, and Coach Bill Cowher said so.

"I thought Omar Jacobs played very well," Cowher said. "I thought he took unbelievable – I mean, it's not just a stride -- he took a giant leap from what he's done in the first three games. He made some plays out there. I thought he did an excellent job."

When told of Cowher's comments, Jacobs said, "I just seized an opportunity. I did the best I could."

Only last week Cowher yanked Jacobs after one series because of a fumble. It marked a low point of training camp for Jacobs, a camp in which he admitted his head was spinning.

Thursday night he talked about his feelings after those three plays in Philadelphia.

"When you compete you want to do a good job, you want to redeem yourself after you fumble and you want to go back and score a touchdown," he said. "It's a learning lesson. I took it in and came back and had a good practice and had a good game this week."

Had he spent any time in the proverbial tank?

"No. I mean, first you want to play. Your first nature is to play. Once that's over you have to put it behind you and move on. If I'd have kept holding that grudge last week, who knows what I'd have done this week."

Jacobs played nearly three quarters Thursday night. He entered the game with 10:33 left in the second quarter and drove the Steelers 30 yards for a 27-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead. Jacobs's pass into the end zone on third down was nearly caught for a touchdown by Willie Reid.

On his first play of the second half, Jacobs rolled right and on the run threw a looping 21-yard pass to Reid. Jacobs followed it up with an 18-yard screen pass to John Kuhn, but Kuhn fumbled at the Carolina 34. Jacobs came back on the next series with a 16-yard pass to Lee Mays, and again threw a completion that was fumbled, this time by rookie tight end Charles Davis at the Carolina 10.

Three series later, the Steelers finally found the end zone. Jacobs hit Young over the middle, and he hit the big guy in stride. Young bounced off a defender and rumbled all the way to the Carolina 4. Cedric Humes scored on the next play to put the Steelers ahead, 13-12, with 3:41 remaining. Of course, Carolina rallied late to win.

"I just went out there and played my heart out and left it all out on the field," Jacobs said. "At the end I was kind of comfortable back in the gun again. I drove the team down and played football. The offensive line did a great job; the guys catching the ball did a great job. It was a team effort. Too bad we didn't get a win. It happens like that sometimes but it's still a learning process."

Back on Aug. 7, Jacobs said of his difficulties grasping the offense: "I see a little daylight. It's there but I'm far from it."

Twenty-four days later, Jacobs basked in his improvement.

"You can see it has slowed down," he said. "The game plan's more condensed than camp. In camp they throw everything at you and your head is spinning. But when the game comes you have a specific amount of plays that you can work through the week. When the game plan came, I looked it over and felt good about it. Every week I felt good coming into the game, and …"

It's starting to click?

"It's starting to click."


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