GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, playing indoors, put more daylight between his motorcycle accident and his return to football yesterday. He played in his first game, threw his first pass, had his first completion and, perhaps most important of all, took his first hit.

The Steelers did not score a touchdown during Roethlisberger's one series, but all was deemed an unqualified success, as has everything associated with the quarterback since his June 12 accident.

"You guys make it a bigger deal than I do," Roethlisberger told the media after the defending Super Bowl champs lost, 21-13, to the Arizona Cardinals in the maiden game in their new stadium. "I went out there, and the rest of the guys, we just treated it like another preseason game. I felt just as comfortable as always."

Yet even the man called Big Ben admitted to pausing before kickoff to reflect on just how far he has come the past two months.

"It kind of hit me right before the kickoff, to say thank you that I'm able to be out here, to put on the jersey, to be in front of people and playing again, two months to the day after a pretty bad accident."

Roethlisberger stayed in for nine plays in the first series and dropped back into the pocket several times in the opening preseason game for both clubs. He completed 3 of 4 passes for 29 yards, dancing and ducking away from pressure in typical Big Ben style. Quincy Morgan dropped the only incompletion.