After what the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has been through,
simply taking the field at all was enough.
"It kind of hit me right before the kickoff," Roethlisberger
said, "to sit here and 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 played one series that ended in a missed field
Then his Arizona counterpart, Kurt Warner, took over, christening
the place with a touchdown in the Cardinals' first drive, following
it with another in a 21-13 preseason victory over the Super Bowl
champs on Saturday.
A capacity crowd of 63,400 attended the unveiling of the $455
million stadium in western suburban Phoenix.
"It's an awesome stadium," Roethlisberger said, "big, loud,
very nice and the field is real good."
Roethlisberger, who lobbied his way into the starting lineup two
months after sustaining serious head and facial injuries in a
motorcycle crash, played one series. He completed three of four passes for
29 yards, the longest an 11-yard screen pass to Verron Haynes.
Warner played most of the first half, going 9-for-13 for 118
yards. The 35-year-old former NFL and Super Bowl MVP even ran for
"For the most part I thought it was really good for the first
preseason game," Warner said. "We're so much farther along from
where we were last year.
Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to the Arizona 26, but drew
some shouts of caution after he escaped from a near-sack by Adrian
Wilson and scrambled before throwing the ball. Coach Bill Cowher
came onto the field a bit to tell him to take it easy.
"I just told him in the future that considering where we are
right now I would rather have him go down rather than trying to
fight to get free," Cowher said.
"We came away with nothing on that first drive, but I'm glad
from Ben's perspective," Cowher said. "He was able to get out
there and I thought he made some plays."
Then the Cardinals drove for a touchdown on their first
possession in their new home.
Warner was 5-for-6 for 59 yards, capped by a 5-yard touchdown
pass to Bryant Johnson. Four of the completions came on third down,
including a 20-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald on third-and-13 to the
After Reed's 48-yard field goal, Warner directed an 11-play,
71-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by Johnson's one-handed grab
of a 20-yard pass. The catch came on third-and-9 at the Arizona 46.
Fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo took a short pass from Warner and
rambled 15 yards for a touchdown to put the Cardinals up 14-3 with
3:31 left in the half.
The arrival of star free agent acquisition Edgerrin James had no
immediate impact on what has been a woeful Arizona running game.
James carried twice, once for a 2-yard loss and once for no gain.
Not to worry, said James, who would have preferred to sit out
the game entirely to wait for the regular season.
"I kind of went through the motions. I just wanted to get off
the field healthy," he said. "I did my job."
On the first, Navarre was hit as he threw and Smith picked it
off at the Cardinals 35. Third-string quarterback Shane Boyd threw
13 yards to Quincy Morgan to set up rookie Mark Brubaker's 24-yard
field goal that cut the lead to 14-6 as the half ended.
Navarre completed 11 of 15 passes for 60 yards.
"Just OK," coach Dennis Green said of the quarterback's
performance. "He did some good things, made one real blunder and I
think that always taints it a little bit."
Diamond Ferri ran 5 yards for Arizona's third touchdown with
9:41 to play. Omar Jacobs threw a 1-yard pass to fellow rookie
Isaac Smolko for the Steelers' lone touchdown, with 1:25 to play.
The Cardinals recovered the subsequent onside kick and ran out the
"We got through the game with really no injuries," Cowher
said. "That's the good news, but from an execution standpoint,
we've got a long way to go, and I think that was very evident
Many of the fans were late arrivals because of traffic jams
on the surrounding streets. ... The Cardinals sold out a home game
for the first time since Sept. 24, 2000, against Green Bay. They
are sold out for the entire regular season. ... Leinart is the only
first-round draft pick unsigned. ... The Steelers also opened Ford
Field in Detroit in 2003.
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