SEATTLE — There was a time, however briefly, when Seattle was a nice place for Tony Romo to visit.
Romo had trouble breathing for much of the rest of the game, but he was flawless, completing 21 of 32 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
Then there was Thursday. Three plays into what was supposed to be the dress rehearsal for the regular season, Romo took a shot to his back by defensive end Cliff Avril as he was attempting to slide.
“At the moment when you go down, you crunch so your back gets squished, I guess you could say,” Romo said in describing the feeling of the hit. “You almost feel a sensation as if someone gave you a stinger in your shoulder. It just feels hot for a second. That dissipates after a minute and you’re OK, all of those things you felt before with back injuries, those are all fine. Then your strength comes back and you’re, like, OK. It just takes a little bit.”
Romo attempted to return to the game but, but coach Jason Garrett opted to hold out the veteran.
Given the way Romo’s trips to Seattle have been, it was perhaps the wisest decision Garrett has ever made.
After weeks of injuries, a player suspension and spotty preseason football from the reserves, the Steelers walked their stars onto the Mercedes-Benz Superdome field and dissected the New Orleans Saints’ defense as if it was routine, like lunch or a nap, in a 27-14 win on Friday night.
These were not routine numbers, preseason or not: 12-of-17, 148 yards, two touchdowns on two drives for Ben Roethlisberger in his first action of the preseason.
Roethlisberger connected with six different playmakers on his first eight completions, including a 5-yard score to Jesse James off a scramble to cap a smooth 15-play, 74-yard drive.
Nothing like the Saints’ defense to boost morale — Landry Jones tore it up, too, completing 12 of his first 15 passes for 116 yards and a score — but the performance was impressive, and much needed.
The Steelers are at their best when in the no-huddle offense like on that first drive, Roethlisberger said. In that set, Roethlisberger calls plays from the line of scrimmage along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
“I think our base offense is going to be uptempo,” Roethlisberger said.
Le’Veon Bell was a tease, because he looked explosive coming off knee surgery, and now he’s out until late September because of the three-game suspension for missed drug tests. His ability as a receiver (five catches, 37 yards) reminds that he can help offset the losses of tight end Ladarius Green (ankle) and Martavis Bryant (suspended). Save his second-quarter fumble on 3rd-and-18 — and he rarely fumbles — Bell looked excellent.