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Roethlisberger out, Vick on Steelers’ hot seat

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PITTSBURGH — Quarterback Mike Vick, signed by the Steelers on August 25, will now take the controls of what was supposed to be one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses and try to keep things humming until Ben Roethlisberger returns from his left knee injury.

Roethlisberger will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL and bone bruise that occurred in the third quarter of Sunday’s game in St. Louis when he was hit low on his leg. Vick went into the game with the Steelers ahead 9-3 and helped preserve a 12-6 victory but he looked somewhat shaky. He fumbled, but teammate Le’Veon Bell recovered for an eight-yard loss deep in Steelers territory and one of his passes was dropped by a defensive back.

He won’t have much time to prepare for his first start with Pittsburgh either because the Steelers play Baltimore Thursday night at Heinz Field.

“He’s a leader and he’s been doing it for a long time,” said All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown, had built up a strong rapport with Roethlisberger the past few years. “It’s not only about him. We’ve got to be able to help him, catching passes, got to be able to run the ball, protect the ball and help him out.”

The Steelers signed Vick when veteran backup Bruce Gradkowski went on injured reserve with hand and shoulder injuries. Pittsburgh also had Landry Jones on the roster. They drafted Jones in the fourth round in 2013 but he has not been active for a game yet as their third-team quarterback.

“You know, you have to go out there and prove that you belong every day in this league,” Vick said. “It’s a constant battle to be consistent and stack up performances and I understand that. I just wanted to go out there and help this football team today and just get out of this stadium. You know that’s a really good St. Louis football team.”

And now an offense that was supposed to carry a young, developing, transitioning defense may have to rely on that defense to carry it.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlinson did not take issue with the hit by Rams safety Mark Barron that resulted in Roethlisberger’s injury, although some of the media reported that such a hit is illegal.

Here is the rule that was cited: “No defensive player who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback may hit him flagrantly in the area of the knee(s) or below when approaching in any direction.”

Although there was no penalty called on the play, it is not known if NFL officials will consider it grounds for a fine.

–Running back Le’Veon Bell ended his two-game suspension and led the Steelers with 62 yards on 19 carries and one rushing touchdown. He also was the team’s second-leading receiver with 70 yards on seven receptions.

DeAngelo Williams, who started the first two games at halfback and led the AFC in rushing with 204 yards, played only three snaps and had one carry for two yards.

“I like the way he plays the game,” Mike Tomlin said. “I like the energy with which he plays. He wants to be a reason we win. He’s never fazed by the elements, meaning the yards were tough to come by. He had a good look in his eye. He’s always positive.”

REPORT CARD VS. RAMS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C. Ben Roethlisberger (20 of 25) and Mike Vick (5 of 6) combined for 230 yards, but Roethlisberger was intercepted that led to a St. Louis score and the two were sacked five times. Vick fumbled, but teammate Le’Veon Bell recovered. They also managed just one touchdown, a 1-yard run by Bell. Roethlisberger’s pass for a two-point conversion also failed.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus. Le’Veon Bell had his moments in his first game back but was limited to 62 yards on 19 carries. He did rush for the game’s only touchdown, from one yard in the second quarter. He had a long run of 23 yards that got his team out of a deep hole. DeAngelo Williams, who led the AFC with 204 yards rushing after two games, carried just once for two yards.

–PASS DEFENSE: B. Rams quarterback Nick Foles completed 19 of 28 for 197 yards (73.1 rating), was sacked twice and intercepted on one big play when he had a chance to lead his team to a late score. Punter Johnny Hekker also threw low on a fake punt, giving the Steelers the ball near midfield.

–RUN DEFENSE: B-plus. The Rams ran 18 times for 71 yards, a 3.9 average. However, one of those runs was an end-around by Chris Givens that gained 24 yards. Another 10 yards came on a 10-yard scramble by Nick Foles on fourth-and-goal that ended up short of the goalline .Rookie Todd Gurley made his NFL debut and gained just 9 yards on six carries.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C. Josh Scobee made both of his field goal tries and Jordan Berry averaged 49 yards on four punts with two delivered inside the 20. The Steelers were the beneficiaries of a botched fake when punter Johnny Hekker threw low to a wide-open receiver for an incompletion that gave Pittsburgh the ball near midfield. The Steelers also failed to convert on a two-point conversion after their only touchdown when Ben Roethlisberger’s pass was knocked away.

–COACHING: C. After the Steelers scored on their first two drives they never scored again until safety Will Allen came up with the team’s first interception late in the game to set up Scobee’s field goal. They committed to Le’Veon Bell on his return from a two-point conversion but DeAngelo Williams probably deserved more than one carry after he led the AFC with 204 yards through two games. And it might be time for Mike Tomlin to scale back the two-point tries. It failed this time and it could have cost him the game.


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