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Old 12-02-2009, 05:31 PM   #1
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Default Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers
http://stats.pennlive.com/fb/story.a...&tm=23&src=NFL
By ALAN ROBINSON,
AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Steelers lost a game and found a quarterback.

They already have a franchise quarterback who's won two Super Bowls in four seasons - a guy named Ben Roethlisberger. During a bit of unanticipated adversity, the Steelers learned Dennis Dixon is a lot closer to being a solid NFL quarterback than the rest of the league might have anticipated.

Dixon, the former Oregon star and a fifth-round draft pick in 2008, had thrown all of one NFL pass before starting Sunday night in Baltimore on about 24 hours notice. The assignment would have been difficult enough if Dixon had practiced all week, but Roethlisberger took most of the snaps, only to be ruled out Saturday because of post-concussion headaches.

Dixon hadn't run the Steelers' offense extensively for weeks - not even in practice - yet he threw for a touchdown and ran for a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh's 20-17 overtime loss.

"He played his heart out," wide receiver Hines Ward said.

Even during a loss, Dixon won over a team.

"It's not too big for him," coach Mike Tomlin said Wednesday. "I think he proved that. He showed great poise and presence playing on the road in a hostile environment against a good defense. He's going to continue to get better. His best days are ahead of him. That was just a step in the process."

Dixon completed 8 of 10 passes and threw for a score during the first half. He was less effective after that, going 4 of 16 for 58 yards with an interception that led to Baltimore's winning field goal in overtime, but his 24-yard touchdown run put the Steelers ahead 17-14 with 6:24 remaining.

"It would be crazy to say I didn't have nerves," Dixon said. "I think the first couple of series I had a couple of nerves, but it's all about playing and that's something I've been doing for a while. I've been there and done that - it's all about getting on the bike and doing it again."

Given the circumstances and the rushed preparation, his teammates were impressed by a quarterback who finished fifth in the 2007 Heisman Trophy voting, only to fall into the second half of the NFL draft because of a severe knee injury.

No young Steelers quarterback has made his first NFL start with such minimal preparation since rookie Mike Kruczek filled in for the injured Terry Bradshaw for six games in 1976. Even Roethlisberger played a half in Baltimore his rookie season in 2004 before starting in Miami the following week.

"A lot of times people don't understand everything that goes into being a quarterback," center Justin Hartwig said. "You have to manage the game. There were times early when he was so focused on what his assignment was, we lost track of the play clock. But there's a lot that goes on in identifying the defense - him and I communicate, and he has to communicate with the receivers. For a young guy to get his first start in a hostile environment like that, with so much responsibility, it's a testament to how well he prepared."

How well he ran, too.

Dixon also had a 31-yard run in the first half that was called back by a penalty. Tomlin was tempted to use him more as a runner, but didn't because of the risk of injury. The only other healthy quarterback was Tyler Palko, who signed with the team only three days before and didn't know the offense.

"I think Dennis won the guys over with his performance," Ward said. "I'm very proud of what he came in and did. ... "He won over a lot of the guys on this team."

If nothing else, Dixon likely secured the backup's job going into next season. Longtime No. 2 quarterback Charlie Batch, currently out with a broken left wrist, is unsigned past this season.

"He did everything coach (Tomlin) asked him to do - and more," Roethlisberger said. "He played with the fire and intensity we've seen in practice. The Ravens found out what we've known all along: He's a very good quarterback."
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

I sure didn't like his second half. But after just a day of prep... I can't fault him for that.

If he has the second spot wrapped up going into camp next year, he will get a LOT more work in camp and in the preseason. Maybe even some work with the first string.

I think this kid really is a find. I do find it funny how many people were questioning this draft a couple years ago.
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

I was very impressed and extremely pleased with Dixon's performance on Sunday night. The poise he exhibited was off the charts for a guy who had only thrown one NFL pass since signing with the team. He fulfilled every expectation the Steelers (and this fan) had of him and it is very refreshing to know that should he need to fill in again at some point either this season or next, we will have a very capable and talented QB to step right in (much like Lefty last season).

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Tomlin was tempted to use him more as a runner, but didn't because of the risk of injury. The only other healthy quarterback was Tyler Palko, who signed with the team only three days before and didn't know the offense.
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Old 12-02-2009, 06:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

FYI:

drew bledsoe threw that same pick into zone-blitz coverage by the steelers in 1997. lineman nolan harrison intercepted and kordell then made two great passes to win a big late season game on the road.

it was bledsoe's 4th year in the nfl.
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Old 12-02-2009, 06:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

Dixon player well in his starting debut and im excited to keep him as a backup.
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Old 12-02-2009, 06:26 PM   #6
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

He didn't run unless he had a clear path out of bounds or into the end zone because he didn't want to get killed by the rats D.

He needs the reps that batch was getting. Dixon is no BB, remember BB won a bunch straight off the bench.
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Old 12-02-2009, 06:42 PM   #7
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

I thought Dixon would be alright, but he looked better that I thought he would. I was impressed.




Tomlin was tempted to use him more as a runner, but didn't because of the risk of injury. The only other healthy quarterback was Tyler Palko, who signed with the team only three days before and didn't know the offense.



If Dixon went down and Ben couldn't come back this week we could have been hearing. "Starting at QB Tyler Palko" Now that should end all the arguing.
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Old 12-02-2009, 07:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

i wonder what his trade value is worth.
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Old 12-02-2009, 07:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

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i wonder what his trade value is worth.
i bet we could get kuhn back and a draft pick
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Old 12-02-2009, 08:16 PM   #10
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Default Re: Dixon's strong debut impresses Steelers

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i wonder what his trade value is worth.

Why the hell would you trade him. Ben misses games every year, having Dixon is great insurance!!
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