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Steelers fall to Packers, 51-34

The Steelers fell behind 14-0 early, and despite coming back to tie the game they couldn’t hold off the Packers, losing 51-34 at Lambeau Field.

There wasn’t one area Coach Mike Tomlin pointed to, but rather all three phases, offense, defense and special teams, played a key role in the loss.

“Not enough fundamental things in all three phases for a winning performance,” said Tomlin. “You don’t expect perfection this time of year, but we fell short in a lot of areas tonight. And areas that will cost you in a lot of stadiums, particularly road stadiums. We turned the ball over, that is never good, home or away, any circumstance. We didn’t do a good enough job of taking care of the football. I don’t think we did a good enough job of pressuring and containing the QB. I thought that was significant early on possession downs. I thought the punting wasn’t consistent enough.

“There are enough issues in all three phases for us to address. Like I told the team I understand this process is a learning process, but boy we have a lot to learn from on that video and we will. How we will respond to this performance is probably more important than the performance itself. We’ll learn a lot about ourselves in the upcoming days in terms of acknowledging what we did and taking the proper steps to rectify some of those things.”

The Steelers are now 1-1 in preseason action, and host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, Aug. 25 at Heinz Field.

Catching on: Rookie receiver James Washington has been impressive in training camp, and he has carried that over into preseason action.

Washington lead the team in receiving with five catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including one where he jumped over the back of the defender and made the combat catch.

QB’s getting a look: Coach Mike Tomlin wanted to get a good look at his two young quarterbacks, Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs, and he did just that against the Packers.

Rudolph started the game, completing just five of 12 passes for 47 yards, a touchdown, three sacks and a 42.2 quarterback rating. He also threw a pick-six on his first pass of the game, giving the Steelers a 7-0 deficit early on. Rudolph came back and took the Steelers on a scoring drive, hitting JuJu Smith-Schuster for a four-yard touchdown.

“Like the rest of the offense, I thought he played tentatively,” said Tomlin of Rudolph. “He’s got to cut it loose and compete. He can’t worry about being perfect.”

Dobbs started the second half, and his first pass of the night was picked off and returned for a touchdown. Not the start either quarterback could have possibly imagined.

Like Rudolph, though, Dobbs rebounded and came back with a 19-yard touchdown pass to James Washington on the next drive.

Dobbs finished the night completing 12 of 18 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, with a quarterback rating of 116.

Conner strong: With Le’Veon Bell not reporting yet, James Conner is getting plenty of opportunities. And he is making them count.

Conner, who played only in the first half, had five carries for 57 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown.

“He's been really consistent,” said Tomlin. “I like his performance throughout training camp. I’ve been pleased with his progress.”

Conner was named the Steelers Digest Player of the Week for his performance.

Feverish first quarter: Things got off to a rocky start for the Steelers when Mason Rudolph had his first pass of the night, intended for Darrius Heyward-Bey, intercepted by Tramon Williams, who returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to put the Packers up 7-0 with just 13 seconds off the clock.

The bumpy road continued on the next drive, with Rudolph called for a delay of game penalty, and through two series the Steelers were behind the eight ball with -1 total yards.

Aaron Rodgers quickly took control for the Packers, leading them on a five play, 40-yard drive that culminated in an eight-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham to give the Packers a 14-0 lead before some people even made it to their seats.

The Steelers needed a spark and got it from second year back James Conner. Conner had three carries for 58 yards on the drive, including one where he broke through defenders drawing a facemask penalty. Conner capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown run, to cut the lead to 14-7.

The tide continued to change for the Steelers when Terrell Edmunds forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and recovered at the Packers 25-yard line.

Rudolph hit Jesse James for 21 yards, and then connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster for his first touchdown pass, a four-yarder to tie the game at 14-14.

The Packers went back on top with a Mason Crosby 36-yard field goal, with a 52-minute first quarter coming to an end with Green Bay leading 17-14.

A quiet Steelers second quarter: While the first quarter went back and forth, the second quarter was dominated by the Packers. The Steelers had -9 yards of total offense in the quarter, while the Packers extended their lead to 34-14 when the two teams headed into the locker room at halftime.

The numbers weren’t good for the offense at halftime, going 0-6 on third down, with 113 yards, and just 27 net passing yards. They were penalized six times for 73 yards.

Stat pack:

-- Jaylen Samuels scored on a one-yard touchdown run, his first touchdown of the preseason.

-- Bud Dupree, working at right outside linebacker, sacked Brett Hundley for a 9-yard loss.

-- L.J. Fort and Morgan Burnett also added sacks.

A closer look at how they scored:

First Quarter: Steelers 0, Packers 7
Scoring Play: Tramon Williams 25-yard interception return for a touchdown.

First Quarter: Steelers 0, Packers 14
Scoring Play: Aaron Rogers eight-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham.
Scoring Summary: 5-40-1:33

First Quarter: Steelers 7, Packers 14
Scoring Play: James Conner 26-yard touchdown run.
Scoring Summary: 3-73-1:11

First Quarter: Steelers 14, Packers 14
Scoring Play: Mason Rudolph four-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Scoring Summary: 2-25-0:38

First Quarter: Steelers 14, Packers 17
Scoring Play: Mason Crosby 36-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 10-51-5:30

Second Quarter: Steelers 14, Packers 24
Scoring Play: Brett Hundley 10-yard touchdown run.
Scoring Summary: 5-65-1:42

Second Quarter: Steelers 14, Packers 27
Scoring Play: Mason Crosby 53-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 6-17-2:43

Second Quarter: Steelers 14, Packers 34
Scoring Play: DeShone Kizer one-yard touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan.
Scoring Summary: 8-51-3:51

Third Quarter: Steelers 14, Packers 41
Scoring Play: Josh Jackson 22-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Third Quarter: Steelers 22, Packers 41
Scoring Play: Joshua Dobbs 19-yard touchdown pass to James Washington. Dobbs two-point conversion.
Scoring Summary: 3-45-1:19

Third Quarter: Steelers 22, Packers 48
Scoring Play: DeShone Kizer 82-yard touchdown pass to Jake Kumerow.
Scoring Summary: 2-83-0:59

Third Quarter: Steelers 28, Packers 48
Scoring Play: Jaylan Samuels one-yard touchdown run. Two-point conversion failed.
Scoring Summary: 9-80-4:41

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 28, Packers 51
Scoring Play: Mason Crosby 50-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 10-58-5:20

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 34, Packers 51
Scoring Play: Joshua Dobbs 22-yard touchdown pass to James Washington. Two-point conversion failed.
Scoring Summary: 7-75-3:51

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