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Old 11-04-2008, 07:24 AM   #1
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Default Leftwich more than fills in the gaps

Leftwich more than fills in the gaps
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

LANDOVER, Md. -- One minute, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sneaking over left guard last night and celebrating a touchdown late in the second quarter that gave the Steelers an unlikely 10-6 lead against the Washington Redskins after one of the worst halves of offensive football that you'll ever see. It was a good sign, maybe of better things to come in the second half.

The next minute, Roethlisberger was trotting to the FedEx Field locker room ahead of his teammates, before the half was done. He jammed his right shoulder on the touchdown, not, as everyone thought, when he hit his right hand on defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery on the follow-through of a pass early in the second quarter. Now, he was headed for X-rays with team orthopedist Dr. Jim Bradley. That was definitely not a good sign.

A dozen minutes after that, the Steelers returned for the second half without Roethlisberger. That was the worst sign of all.

Forget about the game being in doubt.

Suddenly, the rest of the season was in doubt.

"I'll be OK," Big Ben said afterward. Asked if he thought his shoulder problem, which has been bothering him since the first game of the season, was serious, he shrugged and said, "I hope not."

But the Steelers do have a short week before they play the Indianapolis Colts at home Sunday ...

It's a good thing they have Byron Leftwich ready to go.

Just in case.

All Leftwich did last night was lead the Steelers to a 23-6 win, a victory that kept them one game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens at the halfway point of the tight AFC North Division race. He will tell you he wasn't the least bit surprised. This wasn't his first rodeo, you know? He had won 24 games as an NFL starter and helped to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to the playoffs in 2005. He's supposed to be able to do the job when called on, right?

But do it this well?

"Everyone is going to try to make this about me," Leftwich said. "But this is about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the way we play football week in and week out."

Modest man, Leftwich.

The guy was terrific.

Leftwich's first pass went for 50 yards to wide receiver Nate Washington. Then, there was a 7-yard dart to running back Mewelde Moore on a third-and-7 play at the Redskins' 8. Just like that, the Steelers were headed to another touchdown, a 16-6 lead and command of the game early in the third quarter.

Leftwich was even better on a drive that started late in the third quarter. There was a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes on third-and-15, a 13-yard pass to Moore on third-and-4, a 25-yard check-down to Moore under duress and a 13-yard pass to wide receiver Hines Ward on third-and-8. It only seemed right that Leftwich completed the touchdown drive with a 5-yard pass to Holmes, whose dive for the end zone left the Steelers with their 23-6 lead.

"It was good to be back on the field again," Leftwich said.

Here's the amazing part:

"I truly don't know the offense yet," said Leftwich, who was signed in August after Charlie Batch's broken collarbone injury.

"That's the hard part. Not getting any reps. Not getting the opportunity to practice with our offense. I run the other team's offense. This week, I was [Redskins quarterback] Jason Campbell. Last week, I was [New York Giants quarterback] Eli Manning."

Last night, Leftwich did a pretty fair Roethlisberger imitation.

How good this night must have felt to the man.

For one thing, Leftwich grew up in Washington and there's nothing quite like beating the hometown team. Or not. "I grew up a die-hard Redskins fan," Leftwich said. "I don't like playing them. I don't like seeing them lose."

For another and much more important thing, Leftwich is playing for a starting job somewhere next season. This was one heck of an audition. "I let everyone pretty much know I'm healthy now," he said after having one ankle problem after another the past three seasons.

Roethlisberger had a rough time even before his injury. He completed just 5 of 17 passes for 50 yards. He also threw an interception on a pass that was deflected. His passer rating? A putrid 15.1.

Roethlisberger returned to the sideline early in the third quarter and did a wonderful job cheerleading for Leftwich. Who knows? He might be cheering for him again against the Colts, although Leftwich is sort of figuring Big Ben will play.

"We all know Ben is the guy," he said.

Make no mistake about that.

There is absolutely no quarterback controversy here.

The Steelers are going to need Roethlisberger to hold off the Ravens and win the division.

But, this morning, they're feeling awfully lucky to have Leftwich in reserve.

Just in case
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Old 11-04-2008, 07:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: Leftwich more than fills in the gaps

decent article, gotta admit leftwich did a hell of a job to get the offense of a slump. We were moving for christs sake i was amazed, ANd about Ben, hes hurt man, and hes rattled a lot you could of just seen it in the game, he was holding on to the ball not making any full progression reads. It happens when your quaterback is hit that hard all the time.

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Old 11-04-2008, 07:30 AM   #3
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Default Leftwich's play invigorates offense

Leftwich's play invigorates offense
By John Harris
Tuesday, November 4, 2008

LANDOVER, Md. -- Watching the Steelers play football these days has been like observing two teams.

The league's top-ranked defense provides excitement, bone-jarring tackles and instills the entire team with confidence.

Lately, the offense has performed at such a low level that you couldn't wait for the defense to retake the field.

Until Monday night, that is.

The Steelers needed a spark against the Washington Redskins that didn't come from their defense holding the Redskins to 66 total yards in the first half, or their special teams unit blocking a punt that gift-wrapped quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's 1-yard touchdown sneak right before halftime.

The Steelers needed the offense to do more than dig another hole for the defense. The Steelers needed the offense to stop being offensive. The offense needed ... Byron Leftwich?!?

What did Leftwich's second-half spark mean to the Steelers in last night's 23-6 win at FedEx Field? Only everything.

With Roethlisberger in the locker room because of a right shoulder injury, Leftwich led the offense onto the field to open the third quarter in his first meaningful action of the season.

Roethlisberger, who suffered the injury late in the first half, returned to the sideline but did not go back in the game.

All Leftwich did was guide the Steelers on a 72-yard drive covering eight plays and culminating in Willie Parker's 1-yard scoring run.

To put the drive in perspective, the Steelers manufactured 90 yards total offense in the first half.

Washington's defense wasn't expecting Leftwich, who had attempted a total of 14 passes entering the contest.

No matter. On first down from the Steelers 39, Leftwich, who allegedly has little or no mobility, dodged blitzing linebacker Rocky McIntosh in the pocket before stepping up and launching a 50-yard bomb to Nate Washington.

Three plays later, Leftwich made another big play. Facing third-and-7, Leftwich reloaded and tossed an 8-yard pass to running back Mewelde Moore to sustain the drive. Parker's scoring run on the next play was a mere formality.

As Leftwich left the field, coach Mike Tomlin greeted him in celebration before he could reach the sideline.

Leftwich did more than simply manage the game. He energized the offense against one of the league's better defenses.

It was one thing for Leftwich to try not to lose a 10-6 lead and the game. It was something altogether different for him to direct the offense on two lengthy touchdown drives, turning a four-point lead into a 23-6 advantage in the fourth quarter.

The two scoring drives averaged 10 yards and 74.6 yards, as Leftwich exhibited patience with the running game and short passing game while also throwing the long ball with accuracy.

If nothing else, Leftwich's perfomance makes the Steelers that much stronger at quarterback. Every team needs two good quarterbacks, and the Steelers certainly have that.

Roethlisberger is the man. It's his team, his offense.

What Leftwich's performance last night showed the Steelers is that the man behind the man can more than hold his own.
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Old 11-04-2008, 07:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Leftwich's play invigorates offense

Leftwich was a superb replacement QB last night, in the UK the commentators were talking about the best backup QB's this season with so many of the main guys going down injured (Brady, Romo, Kitna etc)

They conclusion they came to was that Thigpen and Leftwich were the two guys who were able to perform to the same standard as the QB who they were replacing. I definately thought that Byron came into the half looking great for when Big Ben is out
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Leftwich's play invigorates offense

I don't trust Leftwich to play at that level every week. But I would love to be wrong

All generalizations are dangerous.
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: Leftwich's play invigorates offense

leftwich did a very good job seeing the WRs quickly. that's what needs to be done when the defense sends too many.

one of the problems with leftwich is his durability. if BR gets hurt i don't see leftwich lasting more than one game. that means kordell experiment #2 takes the field. UGH!
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: Leftwich's play invigorates offense

I agree Leftwich was great, but he is also fresh and not all banged up like Big Ben is right now after playing 8 tough and very physical games. I'm glad he stepped up and did what the 2nd string QB is suppose to do. GO STEELERS, SUPERBOWL HERE WE COME!!!
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: Leftwich's play invigorates offense

It is very nice to have a veteran BACK UP on our roster that we can trust enough to win us a game should he be needed to play for a single half or even, just one full game.
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Old 11-04-2008, 01:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: Leftwich more than fills in the gaps

I think alot of people forget that Leftwich was never a rubbish Q.B., he is a tough chap, how can anyone forget when he played with a broken leg and got carried by his lineman, how many Q.B. would do that in the league, a bit off turf toe and a call to Jessica Simpson and they are out for several weeks! I like leftwichs and he is great if and thats an IF! he can stay healthy, he has been unlucky though, plus he has a cannon and a half!!!!!!! As seen against the Skins.
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Old 11-04-2008, 01:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: Leftwich more than fills in the gaps

I want Ben to play but if a week off would do him good and we can squeeze another good game out of Leftwich then by all means do so. Ben has been beat up and needs to be healthy for the stretch run.
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