Steelers Notebook: Weather delay nothing new in preseason

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Rain delays and cancellations are nothing new for the Steelers in preseason games.

In fact, the 73-minute delay in the game Saturday night against the Detroit Lions was the second time in five years a preseason game was interrupted by a thunderstorm at Heinz Field.

In August 2005, the start of a game between the Steelers and Miami Dolphins was held up for 65 minutes because of a storm.

Of course, the most infamous preseason game to be cancelled because of rain occurred in the 1976 College All-Star Game at Chicago's Solider Field when the game was stopped with 1:22 remaining in the third quarter with the Steelers leading, 24-0.

That proved to be the final College All-Star Game, which pitted the defending Super Bowl champion against a team of college all-stars in the preseason opener.

Saturday night, the game was stopped at 8:53 p.m. with 1:31 remaining in the first half. The Steelers and NFL decided to use the delay as halftime and put the remaining 91 seconds of the first half at the start of the second half.

The players returned to the field at 9:55 p.m. and the game resumed at 10:06 p.m.

Overheard

Referee Jeff Triplette's biggest mistake was not missing an obvious penalty or making an incorrect rules interpretation.

Rather, he left his field microphone on after the Steelers' first touchdown and either he or one of his crew members was heard using several expletives that apparently were directed at the replay official.

After Dennis Dixon's 5-yard touchdown run was overturned by an officials review because there were less than two minutes remaining, the Steelers scored on the next play on a 1-yard run by Isaac Redman.

After Jeff Reed kicked the extra point, the unidentified official was irked that the replay official in the booth stopped the game in a driving rainstorm. If he does that again, the official said, "I'll kick his [expletive] [expletive]."

Then he added, "He's trying to get to the Super Bowl already."

The profanity-laced comment could be heard by the fans in attendance at Heinz Field.

LeBeau honored

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was honored before the game for his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week, and, ironically, it was done with help from the Detroit Lions, the team for whom he played 14 seasons.

The Steelers and Lions players and coaches lined the width of the playing field, creating a gauntlet for LeBeau to walk through when he was introduced. LeBeau walked toward midfield, doffed his cap and bowed to the fans at Heinz Field.

Pouncey's position

Maurkice Pouncey, the team's No. 1 pick, lined at center when Justin Hartwig and right tackle Flozell Adams were removed in the first quarter. Pouncey didn't play at right guard until the fourth quarter.

Is that an indication the Steelers are getting Pouncey ready to play center rather than guard -- the position for which they targeted him when they drafted him with the 18th overall pick?

Perhaps. Pouncey has looked very comfortable on the field and plays under control. After opening a hole on Redman's 31-yard run in the second quarter, Pouncey ran down the field and finished off the play by planting safety Randy Phillips on his back with a block.

Leftwich under pressure

It was not exactly a starling first performance for an offensive line that allowed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 50 times in 2009.

Quarterback Byron Leftwich was sacked only once in 21 plays, but he was under a lot of pressure and took a couple of good hits on several throws.

Adams, in his first start since replacing injured Willie Colon, allowed the sack when defensive end Cliff Avril easily beat him to the outside. Guard Chris Kemoeatu missed a block on defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch on a third-down play, forcing Leftwich to hurry an incomplete pass.

Cornered

Cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett -- third- and fifth-round draft picks, respectively, in 2009 -- made nice plays on Lions receiver Calvin Johnson on the same series to break up touchdown passes.

But, one play after Burnett broke up a fade route, Lewis gave up a 2-yard touchdown catch to Johnson on a short curl route.


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com .


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