Dixon’s strong debut impresses Steelers
They already have a franchise quarterback who’s won two Super Bowls in four seasons – a guy named
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
“He played his heart out,” wide receiver
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
“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.
“A lot of times people don’t understand everything that goes into being a quarterback,” center
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
“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
“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