Big Ben Roethlisberger makes first start for Steelers since being suspended
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Ben Roethlisberger was solid in his first preseason action with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Playing for the first time since being suspended six games by the NFL for violating its personal conduct policy, Roethlisberger completed six of eight passes for 76 yards and led the Steelers on a long drive in making the start against the New York Giants.
Roethlisberger also threw an interception on the second of his three series before giving way to Byron Leftwich with 7:09 left in the second quarter.
Roethlisberger's best series was his last, when he led the Steelers on a 13-play, 58-yard drive that lasted 7 minutes, 5 seconds and ended in a 26-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Roethlisberger hit consecutive passes of 13 yards to Heath Miller and 17 yards to Antwaan Randle-El to get Pittsburgh a first and goal.
Big Ben completed an 8-yard pass to Miller on the Steelers' second play and he hit Miller for 12 yards on the next play. The opening drive bogged down after that.
A two-time Super Bowl champion, Roethlisberger tried to throw deep to Mike Wallace on the Steelers' second drive and was intercepted by cornerback Corey Webster.
The quarterback was suspended without pay on April 21 by commissioner Roger Goodell after a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexual assault in Milledgeville, Ga. No charges were filed.
Roethlisberger underwent a behavioral evaluation as part of the suspension, which could be reduced to four games by Goodell, who will review the case again before the regular season.
If he serves all six games, Roethlisberger will be out through the Oct. 24 game against Miami and can return the next day. His first game would be at Super Bowl champion New Orleans in prime time on Oct. 31.
If the suspension is reduced to four games, he would return for a home matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 17.
Roethlisberger is the first player suspended by Goodell under the conduct policy who hasn't been arrested or charged with a crime. When he handed down the penalty, Goodell cited a "pattern of behavior" that gave him the right to impose discipline even though no law was broken.
Roethlisberger also is being sued by a woman who accused him of raping her at a Lake Tahoe hotel-casino in 2008. He denied the allegation and wasn't charged.
Sitting out all six games would cost the two-time Super Bowl winner an estimated $2.8 million of his $102 million total contract.