LANDOVER, Md. — The battle of the towels was fought to a soggy draw. The Pittsburgh Steelers first-team offense scored a touchdown without Ben Roethlisberger. And the Washington Redskins managed to get their first points of the preseason, albeit with the help of a fake punt and a fourth-string quarterback.
Rookie Chase Daniel, fighting the odds to earn a roster spot, threw two touchdown passes long after the starters had left the game, overcoming another difficult night for Washington’s first-team offense in Saturday’s 17-13 win over Pittsburgh.
Willie Parker had a 3-yard touchdown run for the Steelers, whose starting defense looked in regular season form on a goal line stand on the opening drive. Pittsburgh limited Washington’s Jason Campbell to one completion in a little more than one quarter of play.
With Roethlisberger watching from the sideline — unable to play after a teammate stepped on his Achilles’ tendon during practice this week — Charlie Batch and the Pittsburgh starters played the first three drives before giving way to the backups early in the second quarter.
Batch was 5 for 14 for 63 yards, and Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward made nice catches on a 50-yard drive capped by the scoring run from Parker, who missed last week’s game with back spasms. The touchdown was celebrated by thousands of Terrible Towels waved by Steelers fans who again found plenty of prime seats at the Redskins’ stadium.
The Terrible Towels were a dominant part of the scene last year when Pittsburgh beat Washington on a Monday night in the regular season. For this game, the Redskins retaliated by distributing 50,000 “Redskins Rally towels” — resulting in alternating waves of yellow and white throughout the game. The towels also served a practical purpose: Heavy rains fell for much of the first quarter.
Nearly as disconcerting for the Redskins was last week’s 23-0 loss at Baltimore, a tough result even for an exhibition game. The starting offense didn’t fare much better against the Steelers: Campbell went 1-for-7 for 10 yards, although Clinton Portis had a decent 26 yards on five carries in his 2009 preseason debut.
“We kind of joke that we’re the worst preseason defense in America,” said Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark, knowing that nothing is further from the truth, “so right now we are just trying to get better.”
CHICAGO — Playing a game with Chicago for the first time at Soldier field, Jay Cutler was sharp from the outset in leading the Bears to a victory over New York.
Cutler completed 8 of 13 passes for 121 yards during his three series, leading TD drives of 80 and 92 yards as Chicago built a 17-0 lead.
Cutler outplayed Eli Manning, who left after four series. Manning completed 7 of 10 passes for 62 yards. He was sacked twice, fumbled once — the Giants recovered — and was also called for intentional grounding.
Cutler has already being hailed as the Bears’ best quarterback since Sid Luckman and his arrival after a testy departure from the Broncos has been making headlines for months.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Troy Williamson is giving the Jacksonville Jaguars something they’ve been missing for years: a deep threat.
Williamson, a first-round bust in Minnesota who is looking to secure a roster spot in Jacksonville, caught two deep passes from David Garrard and finished with 147 yards receiving in a preseason loss to Tampa Bay.
Although Jacksonville’s offense was mostly stagnant the rest of the night — the Jaguars were 3 for 14 on third down — Williamson’s two plays were a positive sign for a franchise that has struggled to create big plays in the passing game since receiver Jimmy Smith retired following the 2005 season.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, found few answers for their muddled quarterback situation.
CLEVELAND — Derek Anderson looked worthy of being a No. 1 quarterback. Rookie Matthew Stafford hardly looked like a No. 1 pick.
Anderson led Cleveland to its first offensive touchdown in seven games and stayed tight with Brady Quinn in their too-close-to-call quarterback competition, helping the Browns beat Stafford and Detroit in its home exhibition opener.
Joshua Cribbs had an 84-yard TD punt return in the first half as the Browns (1-1) built a 20-0 lead. Rookie James Davis added an 81-yard TD run and 116 yards on 12 carries for Cleveland.
After coming off the bench last week behind Quinn in Green Bay, Anderson got the start from coach Eric Mangini and finished 8 of 13 for 130 yards with one interception.
MIAMI — Chad Pennington threw well from the pocket and also from the flanker position.
The wildcat was back Saturday night, contributing to a strong showing by the Miami Dolphins’ first-team offense in a victory over Carolina.
The Dolphins (2-0) scored 10 points in Pennington’s three series. He went 8 for 11 for 105 yards, throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Brown and hitting Patrick Cobbs for a 35-yard gain out of the wildcat.
The Dolphins’ variation of the single wing also produced 18 yards in four running plays, with running back Brown taking the snap each time.