Dixon leads Steelers to 23-7 win

PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger didn't play last night, but the Steelers' quarterback depth was enough to defeat the Detroit Lions, 23-7, in the preseason opener for both teams.

Dennis Dixon was the most productive of the Steelers' three quarterbacks.

The third-year backup entered the game late in the second quarter and led the Steelers to a touchdown and field goal in his first two drives. He also threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown midway through the fourth quarter to clinch the win.

Dixon's rollout pass to Arnaz Battle for 51 yards keyed the first touchdown drive. Dixon ran four yards to the Detroit 1 to set up Isaac Redman's 1-yard touchdown run behind fullback Doug Legursky and left tackle Tony Hills to give the Steelers a 13-7 lead.

After the ensuing kickoff, play was stopped by lightning for an hour and 13 minutes, and the final 1:31 of the second quarter was added to the second half.

After play resumed, the Lions drove inside the Steelers' 10, but a jarring hit by safety Justin Thornton knocked the ball from Lions runner DeDe Dorsey and the Steelers recovered at the 7.

Dixon then drove the Steelers 79 yards for Jeff Reed's 32-yard field goal and a 16-7 Steelers lead late in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Dixon threw a short pass over the middle to Brown, and the rookie from Central Michigan sped past the Lions' secondary for a 68-yard touchdown and the final points of the game. Dixon completed 6 of 7 passes for 128 yards and the touchdown. He also rushed 6 times for 31 yards, second on the team to Redman's 60 yards on 15 carries.

Charlie Batch finished at quarterback and completed 1 of 2 passes – to Brown – for 10 yards. Brown led Steelers receivers with 3 catches for 84 yards.

Byron Leftwich, the Steelers' starting quarterback, completed 6 of 10 passes for 43 yards, but the first-team offense struggled. Leftwich led the Steelers to only six points in four possessions.

Both Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore fumbled to stymie drives, which were also hurt by pressure from the Lions' front four.

Leftwich was sacked once when Cliff Avril beat Flozell Adams cleanly off the edge.

The Steelers scored their only first-quarter points on a 35-yard Reed field goal, which was set up by safety Ryan Clark's interception of a Matt Stafford pass.

Stafford was pressured by a blitzing Lawrence Timmons and his pass deflected off a receiver's hands and into Clark's.

The Lions took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter on a 2-yard Matt Stafford pass to Calvin Johnson, who feigned a break to the corner and bumped Keenan Lewis before turning around to make an easy catch. Three plays earlier, Lewis had ripped the ball from Johnson's hands in the corner of the end zone.

Redman's 31-yard run up the middle set up a 37-yard Reed field goal in the middle of the second quarter to cut the Lions' lead to 7-6, before Dixon and the Steelers' backups outperformed the Lions' backups the rest of the way.


Steel City Insider Top Stories