Leftwich—widely known as a rather statuesque passer—earned major style points in the first quarter, scoring the game’s only offensive touchdown on a 31-yard run up the right sideline. The play was so surprising because those 31 yards represent 7.5 percent of Leftwich’s career rushing yards in the NFL.
He’s been in the league for 10 years.
Unfortunately, that’s essentially where the favorable Leftwich-to-Roethlisberger comparisons stop: the goal line on Leftwich’s TD run. The end-zone turf monster tripped him up and, after taking an inexplicable tumble, he appeared to have injured his shoulder.
Leftwich made several good decisions with the football—something that his 18-of-39 passing night wouldn’t indicate. He just placed passes a few inches away from where they needed to be for his receivers to come down with the ball with their feet down in bounds, which more than once subtracted a possible big play from his final stat line.
Jerricho Cotchery even grabbed a pass on the right sideline before he got injured on a big hit Bernard Pollard.
Leftwich, who threw for 201 yards and one interception, has a reputation of being a strong-armed guy from the pocket. Yet perhaps the most discouraging play was his penultimate pass attempt, which appeared to be affected by his shoulder. A fumbled snap led to Leftwich rolling out to the right in hopes of creating Roethlisberger-esque magic with the Steelers down three points.
He loaded up and heaved the football towards David Gilreath, but it fell hopelessly short along with the Steelers hopes of winning.
As it seems he was playing at less than 100 percent for the majority of the contest, it’s difficult to give Leftwich a grade that would reflect what was expected of him (the equivalent of a C).
He didn’t make catastrophic mistakes, but he couldn’t put the Steelers in a position to win late either—despite a strong showing by the Pittsburgh defense.
Overall Grade: C-.
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