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3 things we learned about the Steelers

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ST. LOUIS — The Pittsburgh Steelers won a game but lost a quarterback, at least for the time being, after defeating the St. Louis Rams 12-6.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of the game with a left knee injury with 5:35 remaining in third quarter. Rams safety Mark Barron was blocked and rolled into Roethlisberger’s leg on a sack. Roethlisberger was on the turf for several minutes before limping off the field.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had little information on Roethlisberger, except to say he was “being evaluated” and would have an MRI after returning to Pittsburgh. When pressed if there were any X-rays or anything more, Tomlin said he didn’t have anything more, and added, “I promise I’ll give you more when I have it.”

Before leaving the game, Roethlisberger completed 20 of 24 passes for 192 yards with an interception. He had entered the game needing 223 yards to reach 40,000 for his career.

“This was a good, tough ballgame,” Tomlin said. “It’s good to come out on top of those. … We have to be able to go on the road in a hostile environment be able to win. We can check those two things off today and hopefully we can grow from it.”

When it was noted the large Steelers contingent in the crowd that forced the Rams to go to a silent count in the red zone meaning it wasn’t that hostile, Tomlin smiled and said, “The Rams’ front had something to do with it being hostile. It might not necessarily mean the fans. It might just mean how they were playing. I have a lot of respect for those guys and knew it going in.”

That defense sacked Roethlisberger and backup Mike Vick five times, and limited running back Le’Veon Bell to 62 yards on 19 carries. Bell was playing his first game of the season after missing the first two under league suspension.

For the Rams, following an opening-week 34-31 overtime win over Seattle, they have lost to Washington and Pittsburgh while scoring a total of 16 points and one touchdown.

What We Learned About the Steelers:

1. Not that it wasn’t known, but the Steelers’ offense revolves around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. After he left the game against the Rams in the third quarter, the offense with quarterback Mike Vick under center sputtered. They had just two first downs in four possessions and both were by running back Le’Veon Bell on a 20-yard pass play and 23-yard run. After converting six of their first seven third-down plays, they failed on five straight with Vick, the first on a third-and-23 after Roethlisberger left the game. Said head coach Mike Tomlin of Vick, in what was less than a ringing endorsement, “He got us out of the stadium. That is what the backup quarterback’s job is. If he has to play next week, then he gets a full week of preparation. My standards and expectations will be different under those circumstances. If he has to play, then we have some work to do and we respect that as well.” The Steelers have a short week as they host Baltimore on Thursday.

2. The defense might be improving. Emphasize might. The Steelers were playing against an offense with an inexperienced line that has had difficulty running the ball. They held the Rams to 258 yards, limited them to 49 plays and stopped eight of their third-down plays. And they did it without inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was inactive because of a shoulder injury. “It feels good to play good defense,” Tomlin said. “I can’t say enough about the effort of all of the men in that locker room. It takes a collective effort to win a grimy game like that.”

3. Wide receiver Antonio Brown needs Roethlisberger. Brown, who last week tied Kellen Winslow as the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach 400 receptions, had 11 receptions for 108 yards in the game, all with Roethlisberger in the game. In the 15 plays run with Vick in the game, there were two sacks, one incomplete pass attempted to Brown, 10 touches by running back Le’Veon Bell, and completions to wide receivers Markus Wheaton (four yards) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (seven).

Etc.:

–RB Le’Veon Bell played his first game of the season after missing the first two under league suspension. Bell rushed 19 times for 62 yards (3.3 average), but added 70 yards on seven receptions. Ten of his carries were for one yard or less, including four for minus yardage. Head coach Mike Tomlin said, “I am glad he is on our team. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.”

–RB DeAngelo Williams, who had 204 yards on 41 attempts and three touchdowns in the first two games, was an afterthought with Le’Veon Bell returning. Williams had just one carry for two yards against the Rams.

–ILB Ryan Shazier was inactive for Sunday’s game against the Rams because of a shoulder injury suffered in the win over the San Francisco 49ers the week before. Sean Spence replaced him as the starter and was credited with five tackles including one tackle for loss.


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