GAME RECAP (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(GREEN BAY) - The ovation moved Aaron Rodgers to tears. The Green Bay Packers fans showed their appreciation with the two-time NFL MVP about to take his first snaps at Lambeau Field in almost a year. Once he got behind center, Rodgers needed just one drive to look right at home back in Titletown. Rodgers connected with tight end Jimmy Graham for an 8-yard score, and Tramon Williams had a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage of the Packers' 51-34 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night. "The biggest thing, the goal tonight with Aaron in that first drive was to get the ball in the end zone," coach Mike McCarthy said. "And I thought we did a nice job." The response from fans seemed just as meaningful to Rodgers. He was 2 of 4 for 35 yards in his first game at Lambeau since Sept. 28. He broke his collarbone two weeks later at Minnesota, an injury that doomed the Packers in a 7-9 season. "To be back at Lambeau was a thrill and the ovation touched me," Rodgers said. "I have to kind of wipe away some tears in my eyes." Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger watched from the sideline in shorts and a T-shirt. He and second-stringer Landry Jones had already been ruled out for the game when Roethlisberger left a training camp practice on Tuesday with a possible concussion. Big Ben looked just fine while chatting with Rodgers as they walked to their respective locker rooms at halftime. After the game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger was out of the concussion protocol. Sounds like he'll be back at practice Saturday. "He's out of the protocol. He's a full participant," Tomlin said. The Steelers got off to rough start after Mason Rudolph threw the interception returned by Williams. But five minutes later, Rudolph found JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Rudolph, who is competing with Joshua Dobbs for a backup job, was just 5 of 12 for 47 yards in playing the first half. Dobbs didn't look much better after throwing a 22-yard interception returned for a touchdown by rookie cornerback Josh Jackson in the third quarter. "We'd just like to have those plays back, but the deal is you don't get those plays back," Tomlin said. "So, hopefully, there's a learning process there in it for all of us." Dobbs finished strong and connected with rookie receiver James Washington for two second-half touchdowns . He was 12 of 17 for 192 yards.
GOING TO GRAHAM: Green Bay is always a threat in the NFC as long as Rodgers is healthy. This year, he has an intriguing option in the red zone in the 6-foot-7 Graham, who signed as a free agent in the offseason. Rodgers drew the Steelers offside on third-and-10 from the 13 for a 5-yard penalty. On the next play, he stood tall in the face of a rush before throwing a high pass into the middle of the end zone for Graham. He spiked the ball before heading into the stands for his first Lambeau Leap.
SMITH-SCHUSTER SCORES: Besides Roethlisberger, the Steelers didn't have two other stars. Receiver Antonio Brown sat out, while running back Le'Veon Bell still hasn't signed his franchise tender. But Smith-Schuster is picking up where he left off following a promising rookie year after scoring his second preseason TD. The score wrapped up a wild opening five minutes in which the Packers raced out to a 14-point lead before the Steelers scored two straight touchdowns. Green Bay's backups pulled away from there.
STAT LINES: Second-string quarterback Brett Hundley was 6 of 9 for 77 yards. He also scored on a 10-yard run. Third-stringer DeShone Kizer connected with receiver Jake Kumerow for an 82-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. James Conner had a 26-yard touchdown run for the Steelers in the first quarter while the Packers still had many starters on the field. Washington scored on a 19-yard pass from Dobbs after turning and extending his arms past a defender to retrieve the ball.
QUOTABLE: "Every time he gets a rep, my eyes are on him. I'm just studying him each and every day, picking his brain, just trying to become a better receiver." -- Washington on watching Brown in practice.
INJURIES: Steelers: Backup C Patrick Morris left in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury. Packers: RG Justin McCray (calf) and RB Jamaal Williams (ankle), both starters, left in the second quarter... Kumerow left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: There were no apparent displays of protest by players on either team during the national anthem.
PITTSBURGH GREEN BAY
First downs 20 22
Rushes-yards 27-151 29-77
Net Passing yards 219 280
Passing (Att-Comp-Int) 30-17-2 32-19-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 3-20 3-18
Punts-Average 6-44.5 5-40.6
Fumbles 0 1
Penalties-Yards 12-116 7-80
Time of Possession 27:17 32:43
PITTSBURGH - 14 0 14 6 - 34
GREEN BAY - 17 17 14 3 - 51
1st - GB - Tramon Williams, 25-yard interception return (Mason Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 7-0
1st - GB - Jimmy Graham, 8-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 14-0
1st - PIT - James Conner, 26-yard run (Matt Wile kick) GREEN BAY 14-7
1st - PIT - JuJu Smith-Schuster, 4-yard pass from Mason Rudolph (Wile kick) TIED 14-14
1st - GB - Crosby, 36-yard field goal GREEN BAY 17-14
2nd - GB - Brett Hundley, 10-yard run (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 24-14
2nd - GB - Crosby, 53-yard field goal GREEN BAY 27-14
2nd - GB - Robert Tonyan, 1-yard pass from DeShone Kizer (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 34-14
3rd - GB - Josh Jackson, 22-yard interception return (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 41-14
3rd - PIT - James Washington, 19-yard pass from Joshua Dobbs (Dobbs run) GREEN BAY 41-22
3rd - GB - Jake Kumerow, 82-yard pass from Kizer (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 48-22
3rd - PIT - Jaylen Samuels, 1-yard run (Pass failed) GREEN BAY 48-28
4th - GB - Crosby, 50-yard field goal GREEN BAY 51-28
4th - PIT - Washington, 22-yard pass from Dobbs (Pass failed) GREEN BAY 51-34
GREEN BAY - Joel Bouagnon 13-41, Brett Hundley 2-12 1 TD, Ty Montgomery 4-10, Aaron Rodgers 1-5, DeShone Kizer 2-4, Akeem Judd 5-3, Jamaal Williams 2-2
PITTSBURGH - James Conner 5-57 1 TD, Jaylen Samuels 9-38 1 TD, Joshua Dobbs 5-27, Fitzgerald Toussaint 7-26, Mason Rudolph 1-3
GREEN BAY - Aaron Rodgers 4-2-35 1 TD, DeShone Kizer 12-7-149 2 TD, Brett Hundley 9-6-77, Tim Boyle 7-4-37
PITTSBURGH - Mason Rudolph 12-5-47 1 TD 1 INT, Joshua Dobbs 18-12-192 2 TD 1 INT
GREEN BAY - James Kumerow 3-114 1 TD, Robert Tonyan 3-20 1 TD, Lance Kendricks 2-28, Emanuel Byrd 2-27, Ty Montgomery 2-13, Davante Adams 1-27, Marcedes Lewis 1-23, Marquez Valdes- Scantling 1-15, Equanimeous St. Brown 1-12, Jimmy Graham 1-8 1 TD, Jamaal Williams 1-6, Adonis Jennings 1-5
PITTSBURGH - James Washington 5-114 2 TD, Damoun Patterson 3-35, Jaylen Samuels 3-13, Trey Griffey 2-23, Jesse James 1-21, Justin Hunter 1-19, Pharoah McKever 1-10, JuJu Smith-Schuster 1-4 1 TD