Unless Roethlisberger learns to throw with his left arm too, Pittsburgh's playoff chances will rest with Leftwich. The former first-round pick hasn't started a game in three years and hasn't won one since 2006. He went 7 of 14 for 73 yards in relief against the Chiefs, leading Pittsburgh to a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
"My first few plays I felt like everybody was moving faster than me," Leftwich said. "Maybe that is because I'm slower than everybody. When you ain't out there, let's just be honest, it just takes awhile to get back."
A full week of practice and the fact he's spent four of the last five seasons as Roethlisberger's primary backup means Leftwich isn't exactly starting from scratch.
Early in his career, Leftwich was one of the most promising quarterbacks in the league. Taken with the seventh overall pick by Jacksonville in the 2003 draft, Leftwich led the Jaguars to a playoff berth in 2005 before things fell apart. He lost his starting job to David Garrard a year later then bounced around between Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay before returning to the Steelers for good in 2010.
Leftwich missed all but one game in 2010 due to a knee injury and spent all of 2011 on injured reserve after breaking his arm during a preseason game. Yet the Steelers have kept him around because of his close relationship with Roethlisberger and his arm, which remains one of the strongest in the league. Leftwich actually overthrew speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace on a fly pattern against the Chiefs, a rare feat.
"We have all the confidence in the world in Byron," Wallace said. "He's been in this league a long time, and he's played a lot of games. We just need to work on some things in practice this week with him at quarterback, and I'm sure we'll be ready to go by the time the game comes around."
Roethlisberger will be there in Leftwich's ear offering assistance when necessary, just as Leftwich has done for him through the years.
"He can make every throw on the football field," Roethlisberger said. "He's going to do just as good if not better."
NOTES: DE Brett Keisel (shoulder), LT Max Starks (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf), RT Marcus Gilbert (ankle), WR Antonio Brown (ankle) LB Chris Carter (abdomen) and Roethlisberger did not practice on Wednesday ... S Ryan Clark was limited in practice after sustaining a concussion against the Chiefs. Clark will meet with team doctors on Thursday for further evaluation.
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