Despite a 24-19 Pittsburgh Steelers victory over the Green Bay Packers, if the measure of a successful preseason game is staying injury-free, then by all accounts the team has failed.
In the first half, the team lost Maurkice Pouncey and Stephon Tuitt to left ankle injuries while quarterback Bruce Gradkowski suffered a finger injury.
Mike Tomlin commented on the injuries to Pouncey and Tuitt after the game.
“Maurkice Pouncey has an ankle injury, it’s probably going to be surgical…Tuitt has an ankle but that appears to be your classic ankle, he’ll be down a couple weeks or so.”
Tomlin didn’t put a timetable to Pouncey’s injury but made it seem like he is not going to be ready for the start of the season.
The Packers didn’t walk away from this game clean either, suffering perhaps the most severe blow, losing Jordy Nelson to what is likely a torn ACL.
Green Bay’s offense looked every bit as potent as they are billed, leading a ten play, 80 yard drive that culminated in an Eddie Lacy seven yard score. The Packers’ two-point conversion was successful, giving them an early 8-0 lead.
After great special teams plays by punter Jordan Berry and Antwon Blake, James Harrison beat left tackle Don Barclay to sack Aaron Rodgers in the end zone. It was Harrison’s second sack of the preseason.
The Steelers’ offense, playing their key starters into the second quarter showed their muscle. Ben Roethlisberger found Markus Wheaton twice on a 51 yard drive, including hitting the wide open receiver for a five yard score, putting the Steelers on top 9-8.
Roethlisberger’s day would end after that, going 11/14 for 100 yards and the score.
The Packers executed a two minute drill, scoring with twelve seconds left in the first half when Scott Tolzien hit tight end Richard Rodgers in the middle of the field for a 21 yard touchdown. The two point conversion was true, giving the Pack a 16-9 lead into the break.
Landry Jones tossed an interception on the first play of the second half. Green Bay responded with a 55 yard field goal by Mason Crosby, increasing their lead to ten. Jones responded by hooking up with Sammie Coates for a 54 yard gain, leading in Garrett Hartley to boot a 46 yarder.
The Steelers found the end zone twice in the fourth quarter. Jones found Tyler Murphy coming acorss the middle and the rookie receiver outran two defenders into the end zone. Murphy couldn’t hold onto the two-point conversion try and the Packers still lead 19-18.
After a Green Bay three and out, Jones led the Steelers on a sixty yard drive that ended in hooking up with Shakim Phillips on a fade near the right corner of the end zone. Jones’ two-point try was intercepted, the Steelers leading 24-18 with under five minutes to go.
Green Bay had one last attempt but could not get a drive going. Linebacker L.J. Fort sacked Matt Blanchard on 4th down, celebrating with a Joey Porter-esque kick. It was the last of six sacks the Steelers’ defense would record.
The Steelers will play next Saturday when they travel to take on the Buffalo Bills at 4 PM. The game will be televised on the NFL Network.
Stats To Note: Landry Jones threw two touchdown passes…Tyler Murphy led all receivers with 61 yards…Shamarko Thomas and Antwon Blake each had six tackles…Brad Wing averaged 49.7 yards per punt while Jordan Berry averaged 47.3…Aaron Rodgers went 4/5 for 57 yards for the Packers.