While the Steelers wrapped up the final preseason game with a rather convincing 19-3 win over the Panthers, the bigger story remains the same as it has been from the moment they knew they would not have Ben Roethlisberger the first part of the 2010 season.
Who starts at QB for the weeks Ben is gone?
That question is more cloudy than ever, as Thursday night in the preseason win Byron Leftwich went down with a knee injury. The injury took place after Leftwich hit a pass to rookie Emmanuel Sanders. He was 2 of 4 passes for passes for 43 yards.
If Leftwich can’t go against the Falcons, it opens the door more than ever for Dennis Dixon, who rebounded nicely after a horrid outing Sunday night in Denver. He threw a touchdown on his only pass, a 23-yard TD to Sanders that gave the Steelers a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.
The story of the game was the Steelers D, which punished the weak Panthers offense all night, holding them to 123 yards and three points. They allowed 9 first downs, 72 yards rushing, and 4-for-16 on third downs.
The Steelers rushing controlled the game, going for 175 yards on 39 carries, a 4.5 yards per carry average. Rookie Jonathan Dwyer likely cemented a spot on the roster with 93 yards on 20 carries, including a 36-yard run in the 4th quarter that ended with a Jeff Reed field goal to wrap up the scoring at 16-3.
Roethlisberger went 4-for-6 in the game for 39 yards, and Charlie Batch, who may have played his last game with the team, went 3-for-4 for just 10 yards. Reed hit for four field goals in the win. The team will now sit back, wait on Leftwich’s knee, and have to make a number of roster moves, cutting possibly up to 22 players by Saturday’s deadline.