Saturday, August 12, 2006
Steelers at Cardinals: Pre-season Week 1 Recap
(The Burgh – August 12, 2006) – Although the final score did not favor the Steelers in today’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, there were a lot of first’s and positives that came out of the game, including:
- First game ever in Arizona’s beautiful new $465 million-dollar Cardinals Stadium with a movable field – the first of its kind. For games, the field is moved indoors, and while not in use, the grass field is moved outside to bask in the warm, Arizona sun. Just as impressive was the fact that the Cardinals sold out their first game since 2000 – causing traffic jams around the stadium and a lot of angry fans who missed kick-off and a chunk of the first quarter.
- Big Ben played in his first game since his motorcycle accident exactly two months ago. He looked like he didn’t miss a beat, coming in to drive the Steelers to the Arizona 26 before being sacked on 3rd down, going 3 for 4. Nevertheless, Big Ben threw his first pass, made his first completion, sidestepped his first opposing defender, and took a hit all within a matter of minutes on Saturday afternoon.
- The Steelers’ 2006 batch of rookies, who are looking to make the team and also move up the depth chart, finally got some much needed NFL game time. No rookie had a better game than Anthony Smith, the free safety from Syracuse who was drafted in the third-round. Smith had not one, but two picks against John Navarre in his first-ever NFL game. Not a bad start for the pro career at all.
- Marvin Phillip, the center from Cal who was a sixth-round pick, also played a solid game considering he was thrust into the back-up center role behind Jeff Hartings after Chukky Okobi suffered a neck injury earlier in the week. Not that Phillip played an incredible game, but more importantly, he didn’t make any bonehead plays that are expected from rookies – especially rookies playing in their first NFL game. To his right was training camp surprise fourth-round pick tackle from Hofstra University, Willie Colon. Colon also did his job at protecting the QB and opening up holes for the running game.
- A pleasant surprise was the performance of fifth-round pick, QB Omar Jacobs, from Bowling Green. After all that was said about the kid’s inability to grasp the play book during his first week at training camp, not much was expected of him today. However, unlike Shane Boyd, who Jacobs is battling for the 3rd string QB slot, Omar led the Steelers on an impressive 4th quarter scoring drive, capped off with a perfectly thrown fade pass to tight end Issac Smolko in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
- During that 4th quarter scoring drive, the Steelers’ seventh-round pick, RB Cedric Humes from Virginia Tech, also had a sweet 33 yard scamper after catching a screen pass.
- The WR duo of Santonio Holmes and Willie Reid also did not disappoint, although Stillers Nation would have liked to see either of them bust one open. WR Nate Washington also made his first start as a Steeler, filling in for the injured Hines Ward.
All in all, it was not a bad day in Stillers Nation. Next up are the Minnesota Vikings, who will be coming to Heinz Field next Saturday, August 19th at 8:00pm.