The debut of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the first-team offense did not disappoint, as the Pittsburgh Steelers came away with a 26–20 victory over the Detroit Lions. Though he played less than two quarters, Roethlisberger and his crew gave the Lions and all NFL teams a sample of their new offense under coordinator Matt Canada. To say the least, they gave the Lions defense more than they could handle with their array of offensive weapons.
Here are the players we believe stood out in this preseason game.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
8–10 for 137 yards and two touchdowns. All this in less than two quarters of work, should let everyone know that this year's version of Big Ben is better than ever. Perhaps the aspect of his skillset that deserved more attention was his mobility. His incompletion to Eric Ebron was impressive due to the fact that he spun and evaded two defenders before throwing a pass.
On his first touchdown pass to rookie Pat Freiermuth, he used his trademark pump fake, which even fooled the cameraman.
In summary, Roethlisberger was everything head coach Mike Tomlin expected him to be - fluid and consistently in command of the offense. For pundits who deemed has being washed up, they may end up eating their words after the 2021 season is over.
Linebacker Alex Highsmith
To say the least, Highsmith was a menace to the Lions offense and was impactful, even though it was not reflected on the statsheet. His pressures were consistent and often resulted in incompletions and near-interceptions. Through much of the offseason, Highsmith's pass-rushing abilities have been noticed by everyone, and has evolved into the type of pass rusher that should make fans forget about his predecessor, Bud Dupree.
Tight End Pat Freiermuth
All Pat Freiermuth needed was two receptions to make his point. For an offense that was yearning for a reliable red zone target, Freiermuth made it clear that he was going to be that player. During his time at Penn State, Freiermuth took pride in never dropping a pass in the red zone. In this game, he made two impressive touchdown catches in the red zone and dropped a potential one on a crossing route. This upcoming season, do not be surprised if the Roethlisberger-Freiermuth connection becomes a major part of the offense.
Notable mention(s): Running back Najee Harris, quarterback Mason Rudolph, cornerback Justin Layne, and linebacker/safety Marcus Allen