LANDOVER, Md. -- Ben Roethlisberger watched comfortably from the sideline as the Steelers and Washington Redskins played yet another tedious exhibition game last night.
Roethlisberger and the Redskins were winners. Roethlisberger because he did not have to play following an injury to his right foot in practice Thursday that has proven to be minor; the Redskins because they won, 17-13.
Afterward, coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is OK, although he would not say if he expects him to practice tomorrow.
No. 3 Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon, however, was not so lucky because he left in the fourth quarter with what Tomlin described as an AC joint injury to his right shoulder. In layman's terms, that is a separated shoulder, something Roethlisberger had last season but which caused him to miss no games. It depends on the degree of separation as to the time Dixon might miss.
The setback dropped the Steelers' record to 1-1, and it remained difficult to determine if they have sharpened their Super Bowl skills.
"Not enough good things from us as a football team to win, regardless of opponent or game location," Tomln said.
They felt good, however, that their first-team offense finally scored and their first-team defense had a successful goal-line stand.
The Steelers' starting offenses and defenses played little more than a quarter, three series each. Also, it was a sloppy game all around with 15 penalties awarded in the first half alone -- 10 against the Steelers for 74 yards in losses.
"Coming out of the preseason opener, that was something that we wanted to address," Tomlin said. "We wanted to play smarter than we did the first time out. We did not get that accomplished, not even close, but I think we are playing pretty good situational football, third down particularly, and we were able to put a drive together."
Charlie Batch started at quarterback and led the first-team offense to its first points, when Willie Parker scored on a 3-yard sweep late in the first quarter.
That ended a 50-yard drive, with Parker running behind a good block from Carey Davis. The drive also wiped out an early, 3-0 Washington lead and included first-down conversions on third downs of 10 and 13 yards.
Parker missed the opener last week with back spasms.
"It felt great," said Parker, who finished with 13 yards on four carries. "I mean, the first time back on the field and the offense looked great. I followed Carey Davis, and it got me into the end zone."
Parker has made it no secret he wants to remain in the game at the goal line.
"I want to keep getting into the end zone, I want to make that a habit," he said. "I want to keep doing it, keep doing it and keep doing it, so the coaches don't have any other goal-line set and I'll be the goalline guy."
"We picked up some third-down conversions and we felt good out there," said center Justin Hartwig, playing in his first game after sustaining a broken big toe before camp this summer. "It was good to put together a scoring drive with the No. 1 offense."
Batch (5 of 14, 63 yards) had his good moments and bad on that series. He was penalized for an intentional grounding under heavy pressure. On the next play, he threw behind Santonio Holmes on a crossing pattern, but Holmes reached back and caught it for 16 yards and a first down at Washington's 37. Three plays later, on another third down, Hines Ward made a nice catch of a ball thrown slightly behind him for a 24-yard gain to the 13.
The Redskins were determined to win this game after losing, 23-0, to nearby Baltimore in their first preseason game. Washington coach Jim Zorn said his team had played soft against the Ravens.
Indeed, they took a 3-0 lead by deploying a successful fake punt on third-and-10 to keep their first series alive. That helped them move 62 yards on 15 plays against the Steelers' first-team defense.
That defense held up well after Washington reached a second-and-two at the 3, holding Ladell Betts to no yards on two carries, the last a big play by backup inside linebacker Keyaron Fox, who threw him for a one-yard loss.
Shaun Suisham, a one-time Steelers camp kicker, made a 20-yard field goal for Washington's quick, 3-0 lead.
Dixon continued to look good in his role with the backup units before he was hurt. He led the Steelers on a late second-quarter drive that produced Jeff Reed's 34-yard field goal and a 10-3 lead.
On consecutive plays, Dixon scrambled to his right and hit a sliding Limas Sweed for a 17-yard gain on third-and-nine,, Dixon dropped into the shotgun on first down and scrambled 16 yards up the middle.
Reed had a chance to kick a second field goal before the half ended after veteran cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, signed as a free agent this spring, intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards to the Washington 35 with 3 seconds left. But Reed missed a 53-yard attempt wide right. Washington's defense, however, was offsides. Given a second try from 48 with no time left, Reed's kick was wide left.
The Redskins tied it, 10-10, with their first drive of the second half and Chase Daniel at quarterback. He drove them 60 yards and struck for a touchdown on a fade pass from the 3 to Marko Mitchell. Rookie cornerback Joe Burnett, who stands 5 feet 10, was no match on the play for the 6-4 Mitchell in the back left corner of the end zone.
Burnett also fumbled a punt early in the fourth quarter that Washington recovered at the Steelers' 18. It took the Redskins one play to take the lead as Daniel hit 6-4 Fred Davis over the middle for an 18-yard touchdown.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published August 23, 2009 4:00 AM