The third preseason game is traditionally the one that serves as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, and with that being the case the Steelers starters put on a strong performance in a 16-6 win over the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.
"I liked what I saw in a lot of fronts in the game," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "Gave Ben (Roethlisberger) an opportunity to work. I liked the fluidity of the way the offense moved, the first group. I thought we used cadence as a weapon. We converted a couple of first downs, utilizing cadence. That was not very noticeable, but significant. Just some very good fundamental things.
"Defensively I thought they minimized the run and gave them an opportunity to get after the passer and create some turnovers. Some positivity, obviously some things to look at."
Ben on point: Coach Mike Tomlin said he wanted to get a look at Ben Roethlisberger and the first-team offense, and it took just three series for him to be pleased with what he saw.
Roethlisberger looked good in his first action of the preseason, completing 11 of 18 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, with a rating of 97.9.
"I thought he did some good things, some great things from a communication standpoint," said Tomlin. "He felt good. We got some good production, so it was a good outing. I liked his overall command of the offense pre-snap. We converted two third downs using cadence as a weapon where we drew them offsides. That is a part of his performance as well."
Roethlisberger led the offense on a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive, that culminated in a 32-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter for a 7-0 lead.
Hunter was originally ruled out of bounds, but the Steelers challenged the call, and Hunter did his best toe-tap to keep both feet in bounds.
All week long the Steelers starting defense said they wanted to log some time together today to see what they could do as a unit. Well, they got time, and they did plenty.
Defense dominant: The first-team defense held the Titans scoreless, and completely shut them down. The starting unit allowed just 51 yards and had a takeaway. The Titans didn't get the ball past the 50-yard line through their first eight possessions and managed only four first downs against the starters.
The Steelers had six sacks, including three from their starters. Cameron Heyward, playing in his first game of this preseason, had one, along with Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers Digest Player of the Week, and Vince Williams.
"It's just one outing," said Tomlin. "We'll continue to grow and put tape out there. What that tape says we are, we are. We'll let the tape do the talking."
Getting the deal done: On Thursday Vince Williams was signed to a new four-year deal, and on Saturday he showed why with another performance where he was all over the field, playing relentless football, and accounting for one of the Steelers six sacks on the day.
"Vince's story is a Steelers story," said Tomlin. "This is a guy, a later round draft pick who has earned his way into this thing. First as a special teams contributor, then as a special teams contributor and a defender. It's fun to watch him go through the natural maturation process that we aspire all of these guys to go through. He has answered the bell at every turn and continued to grow. Last year he showed his ability to rush the passer and be productive for us in those ways. Every year he is working to grow and add to his range of skills. He is an easy guy to do business with. We are excited we are going to continue to do business with him and he is deserving of it."
Flag football: Jaylen Samuels saw action in the second half and looked good in the backfield on the first drive he played with carries of 18, five, three and two yards, and receptions for 10, eight and four yards from Mason Rudolph. The Steelers were moving the ball nicely on the drive, but penalties got the best of them.Four out of five plays drew a flag, including three holding penalties. One of those penalties negated a 17-yard touchdown reception by Samuels, and the Steelers had to settle for a field goal.Samuels finished the game with 11 carries for 41 yards, and five receptions for 36 yards."He is growing like a lot of young guys should," said Tomlin. "He is probably one of the ones I am talking about when I am encouraging guys to lean in. It's been a long fight, it's been a hard fight, it's been a tiresome fight for young players. I don't want to see anybody let up as the road gets narrow. We need to have the type of guys that display the grit, that can lean in and fight to the finish. He'll be given an opportunity to do that."
Game action photos from the Steelers' third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.
Picked off: First-round draft pick Terrell Edmunds intercepted Marcus Mariota, and then quickly showed off his speed. Edmunds returned the interception 30 yards to the Titans 24-yard line.He wasn't the only rookie with an interception. Fifth-round pick Marcus Allen had an interception in the closing seconds of the game to seal the win and allow the Steelers to just take a knee..
Walking wounded: The Steelers came out of the game relatively healthy, with three players mentioned by Tomlin with in-game injuries…Marcus Tucker (ankle), James Washington (oblique) and Jesse James (back contusion).
A look at pregame warmups and locker room prep before the Steelers' third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.
A look at how they scored:
First Quarter: Steelers 7, Titans 0
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger 32-yard pass to Justin Hunter.
Scoring Summary: 7-80-1:45
Second Quarter: Steelers 10, Titans 0
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 42-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 6-23-1:03
Third Quarter: Steelers 13, Titans 0
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 33-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 11-41-8:07
Third Quarter: Steelers 16, Titans 0
Scoring Play: Chris Boswell 45-yard field goal.
Scoring Summary: 6-22-2:34
Fourth Quarter: Steelers 16, Titans 6
Scoring Play: Blaine Gabbert three-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Firkser. Two-point conversion failed.
Scoring Summary: 11-82-5:34