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Landry Jones should be Steelers’ starting QB until Roethlisberger returns

It seemed awfully cold for Landry Jones to be playing quarterback, Alejandro Villanueva to be at left tackle and a guy named Chris Boswell to be kicking field goals at Heinz Field.

But this was no preseason game. It was the real deal, and the Pittsburgh Steelers MacGyvered their way to another win without Ben Roethlisberger Sunday.

And in the spirit of this Halloween season, the Steelers are now a little less haunted by The Night of the Living Tebow.

Roethlisberger was 29 when the Steelers went down in Denver to end their 2011 season. For the first time since then, a quarterback younger than 30 called the signals for the Steelers.

That might seem like trivia on the surface, but what this means is that the Steelers don’t necessarily have to rely on a journeyman when Roethlisberger is injured. They could have a viable backup with upside for the life of Roethlisberger’s five-year contract.

That’s assuming Jones gets a promotion on the depth chart. Roethlisberger likely will hit the practice field again this week with hopes of playing at Kansas City Sunday. But if he can’t go, Jones should start.

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Le’Veon Bell earns place in Steelers history with game-winning TD

Le’Veon Bell has little to prove.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back already is the team’s reigning Most Valuable Player and a First Team All-Pro. He owns the franchise’s single-season record for yards from scrimmage.

But on Monday night, he became an immortal part of the Steelers’ storied history.

Bell lifted the Steelers to a dramatic 24-20 road win over the San Diego Chargers with a 1-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat as time ran out.

So far, this is the showpiece of the Le’Veon Collection of dazzling plays Bell has made in his three-year career.

This play could even get a name. Maybe The Wildcat. Or THE wildcat. Not only might the play save the Steelers’ season, it also breathed new life into this languishing gadget play.

And America has a new goal-line play to talk about.

Move over, Malcolm Butler.

Ben Roethlisberger has The Tackle and his game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLIII. Troy Polamalu had his pick-six against the Ravens in the 2008 AFC championship game and his strip-sack of Joe Flacco in a 2010 victory at Baltimore that ultimately won the AFC North.

It remains to be seen if Bell’s touchdown will be that historic. It could depend on how the Steelers’ 2015 season turns out. But at the very least Bell has contributed to the Steelers’ list of legendary plays.

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Steelers face uphill climb without Ben Roethlisberger

Sunday was not a good day for the Pittsburgh Steelers despite their 12-6 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Hard-core Steelers historians might have felt a sense of trepidation about the day, even with the return of Le’Veon Bell.

The last time the Steelers played at St. Louis, Willie Parker broke his leg in Week 16 of the 2007 season. The Steelers won that night, but were one-and-done in the playoffs without their star running back.

Unlike Parker eight years ago, Bell left the Edward Jones Dome unscathed. He was indispensable, scoring the game’s only touchdown.

Another indispensable Steeler wasn’t so fortunate.

Ben Roethlisberger left the stadium on crutches, suffering a left knee injury after Rams safety Mark Barron sacked him late in the third quarter.

Roethlisberger went down in a manner similar to Tom Brady in 2008. Brady also was taken down by a safety who went at him low. After Bernard Pollard ended Brady’s season, that type of hit was made illegal. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, however, said he didn’t have a problem with it according to Ed Bouchette of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

This wasn’t one of those times when Roethlisberger gets up, makes a face and limps around a little bit. That barely even fazes anyone anymore. This time, Roethlisberger went down and he stayed down.

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Steelers don’t need Bell, Bryant to rout 49ers

When an NFL team wins as emphatically as the Pittsburgh Steelers did on Sunday, pundits often trot out an old sports cliche and say that the team is “sending a message.”

The Steelers sure did send a message by torching the San Francisco 49ers 43-18 at Heinz Field.

The recipients of this message aren’t necessarily the rest of the teams on the Steelers’ schedule. Rather, the Steelers served this notice to two of their own teammates.

At least it seemed that way.

Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant now know that their replacements can help this offense light up the scoreboard. The lesson here should be that if they let the team down again, life can go on without them.

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Steelers lose opener to Patriots, have only themselves to blame

So are we supposed to be encouraged by the fact that the Steelers only lost to the Patriots by seven points in Thursday night’s season opener?

Tom Brady is 4-0 against the Steelers at Gillette Stadium. The first three victories came by an average margin of 20 points.

Thursday’s 28-21 final score was deceptively close. Ben Roethlisberger threw a garbage-time touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with two seconds left.

Still, this was the most winnable of the Steelers’ four encounters against Brady in Foxboro.

Are the Patriots better than the Steelers? Yes. Not only can the Steelers not cover Rob Gronkowski, they couldn’t cover any of the Rob Gronkowski cardboard cutouts that adorn every Dunkin’ Donuts from New London to Bar Harbor.

But the Steelers could have overcome Gronkowski’s three touchdowns and Tom Brady’s 25-for-32 passing if it weren’t for their own incompetence.

The Patriots couldn’t stop the Steelers on the game’s opening drive.

But the Steelers sure could.

After Pittsburgh moved the ball 76 yards to the New England 24 on five plays, Todd Haley called a momentum-killing gadget play in which Brown was going to throw the ball. Brown couldn’t find a receiver and the Steelers lost eight yards on the play. Then came a holding penalty on Marcus Gilbert, and the Steelers eventually had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt that Josh Scobee missed.

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5 ways Steelers can beat Patriots in 2015 season opener

Don’t count the Pittsburgh Steelers among those who were disappointed at Judge Richard M. Berman’s decision to lift Tom Brady’s suspension.

The Steelers wanted Brady all along in the 2015 season opener, even though they’ve never beaten Brady at Gillette Stadium.

“Our best against their best,” Cameron Heyward, one of the few Steelers defenders with a discernible pulse, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “So let’s join the party.”

Heyward’s idea of a party must be a root canal or a rectal exam, because the Steelers’ last visit to Gillette Stadium felt like one of those prodecures.

The Patriots pounded the Steelers 55-31, gashing the Steelers defense for 610 yards. It was a Steelers record for yards allowed and points allowed in a single game.

The Steelers defense might be even worse this season. So how do the Steelers beat the defending champions, with Brady amped up to prove that he can win with properly inflated footballs?

They’ll have to check off at least one of the boxes on the following list.

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Signing Michael Vick is the right move for Steelers

If it weren’t for Michael Vick’s past, his signing Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Steelers would be nothing more than six-point agate type in the newspaper.

Vick is, after all, a 35-year-old quarterback whose 52.9 completion percentage last season was the lowest in the NFL among quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes. He’s a backup near the end of his career.

But because Vick once ran a heinous dogfighting ring, this isn’t just any transaction. It’s something that has to be talked about.

Many Steelers fans are in an uproar over their team signing a man who used to kill dogs for fun.

Vick did, however, spend nearly two years in prison for his crime. Everyone has a right to make a living once they’ve served their time. Vick makes his living playing quarterback. He did that for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2009 to 2013 and the New York Jets last season.

Now Vick’s redemption tour takes him to Pittsburgh. The Steelers need a backup quarterback after placing Bruce Gradkowski on injured reserve with a hand injury.

Vick as a Steeler isn’t an easy concept to stomach. But do we know for a fact that he’s the worst human being ever to wear a Steelers uniform?

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Packers vs. Steelers: 5 Takeaways from Pittsburgh’s 24-19 Preseason Win

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have to worry about a winless preseason.

But they do have to worry about Maurkice Pouncey.

The Steelers’ All-Pro center was injured in the first quarter of Sunday’s 24-19 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pouncey broke a bone in his ankle and will have surgery today. He could go on the injured reserve/designated to return list, which means he’d be out for at least the first six weeks of the season.

It’s already been a costly preseason for the Steelers, who lost kicker Shaun Suisham for the season with a torn ACL in the NFL Hall of Fame Game.

Without a definitive diagnosis, it’s too early to analyze Pouncey’s injury and its impact on the Steelers. We’ll know more in the coming days.

Based on what we do know from Sunday’s game, here are five takeaways.

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Steelers vs. Jaguars: 6 Takeaways from Pittsburgh’s Second Preseason Game

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell to 0-2 in the 2015 preseason with Friday night’s 23-21 loss at Jacksonville.

They won where it really counts, however, because they came out of the game with no significant injuries.

The first-team offense needed just six plays to move the ball 80 yards on the game’s opening possession. Ben Roethlisberger’s 44-yard pass to Martavis Bryant, and his two-point conversion pass to Markus Wheaton, gave the Steelers an 8-0 lead.

Most of the skill-position players on offense were done for the night after that first series. There’s not much to worry about there. Barring a rash of injuries on that side of the ball, the Steelers will be able to put points on the board this season.

It’s the other areas that require deeper scrutiny.

Here are six observations – the good, the bad and the ugly – from the game.

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Pittsburgh Steelers: 3 Thumbs-Up, 3 Thumbs-Down Performances in 2015 Preseason Opener

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Minnesota Vikings 14-3 Sunday night in the NFL Hall of Fame Game.

Ultimately, no one will remember the score of the 2015 preseason opener. The game is meaningless in the standings, but for players who are fighting for a roster spot, the game meant everything.

Here are three Steelers players who helped themselves and three who didn’t on Sunday night in Canton, Ohio.

THUMBS UP: Ryan Shazier

Not that Ryan Shazier is in danger of being cut, but the Steelers’ 2014 first-round draft pick still has plenty to prove after an injury-riddled rookie season.

The inside linebacker led the Steelers with five total tackles, including four solo tackles. He showed his speed in snuffing out a reverse to Mike Wallace in the first quarter. The former Steeler lost a yard on the play.

Shazier also was involved in stopping the Vikings on fourth-and-1 to end their first possession. He put a nice hit on Matt Asiata after the Vikings’ running back caught a pass for five yards. The Vikings eventually missed a field goal on that series.

Playing into the second quarter, Shazier showed signs that he might not be a bust after all.

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