By Dale Grdnic
Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have been searching for a goal-line and short-yardage running back since Jerome Bettis retired, and after two training-camp weeks and one preseason game they might have found him.
Isaac Redman, a 6-foot, 230-pound rookie free agent from Bowie State, had two strong weeks at Saint Vincent College with a strong performance in a live, goal-line drill.
Redman followed that with a three-yard touchdown burst off right tackle in his first goal-line shot and capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter with a five-yard scoring run. The first score was set up by rookie cornerback Joe Burnett’s interception and 41-yard return.
Redman’s touchdowns provided the winning points, as the Steelers captured their Super Bowl XLIII rematch with the Arizona Cardinals, 20-10, Thursday night at Heinz Field. Redman finished with 10 carries for 32 yards and appears to be close to securing a roster spot with the Steelers this year.
“Hopefully, we’ll get some more looks at him against some varsity guys, if you will,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He did do a good job against what he was facing in front of him tonight. But we’re not going to make too much out of it, so we’re just going to continue to work and move forward.”
The first two units from each team couldn’t muster much offense, as the score was tied 3-3 late into the third quarter. Jeff Reed boomed a 50-yard field goal to give the Steelers an early advantage, but the Cardinals tied it with no time on the clock in the first half.
Anthony Madison intercepted a pass to apparently end the half, but he was called for pass interference to give Arizona one play.
Neil Rackers kicked a 29-yard field goal to tie the score, 3-3, going into the intermission. Charlie Batch replaced Ben Roethlisberger and completed a 45-yard pass to Limas Sweed to put the Steelers into field-goal range.
The club got close late in the third quarter, but Piotr Czech hooked a 36-yard field goal wide left into the open end at Heinz Field. He kicked a 44-yarder in the final two minutes to set the final score.
“I knew Limas was going to have a great preseason this year,” Steelers wideout Hines Ward said. “What happened last year was last year. He’s going to grow as a wide receiver and make some big plays for us.”
With second-year quarterback Dennis Dixon at the helm, the Steelers drove 80 yards in 12 plays with a mix of sharp passing to veteran wideout Shaun McDonald, who finished with six catches for 69 yards and is another possession receiver to help the Steelers’ ball-control offense. Dixon completed 10 of 19 passes for 112 yards.
Burnett returned punts for the Steelers and didn’t do much. He let a ball drop inside the 10, had two fair catches there and had one short return.
Mike Wallace didn’t get a lot of chances on kickoff returns, but the one he could return he broke to the outside for 35 yards. Wallace also caught two passes for 35 yards.
“There was some good situational football,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t get a bunch of returns, but we did get a chance to evaluate Joe in some other areas. He got a chance to fair catch a ball at the 9, and he did not fair catch another attempt that allowed him to be a blocker.
“And then he let one go that bounced into the end zone. So, those are just as important as fielding and running, some of the decision-making is just as important.”
The Steelers had several sacks: outside linebacker Arnold Harrison and Sonny Harris shared one. Keiwan Ratliff had one, and so did No. 1 pick Ziggy Hood. Each was on Arizona third-string quarterback and former Steelers backup Brian St. Pierre.
There are four former Pitt players on Arizona’s roster. Wideout Larry Fitzgerald, linebacker Gerald Hayes, tailback LaRod Stephens-Howling and quarterback Tyler Palko. Stephens-Howling ran six times for 24 yards, while Palko completed 8 of 14 passes for 103 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Fitzgerald had one catch for 10 yards.
The Steelers don’t play again for nine days, as they visit the Washington Redskins Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m.