PITTSBURGH -- The Packers came into the 2007 season feeling the defensive line was one of the team's biggest strengths, and that held true in the preseason opener at Pittsburgh.
The Packers racked up five sacks against the Steelers, all by defensive linemen, in their 13-7 victory at Heinz Field on Saturday night.
To further illustrate how tough Green Bay's line was, the Steelers were called for holding on two of the sacks, and both penalties obviously were declined.
"Our goal this year is to be the best defensive line and the best defense in the league," said defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who had the first two sacks. "We want to try to carry this team with our play, so we're just trying to get off to a good start."
Jenkins' first sack came on the Steelers' opening series. On third-and-5, Jenkins reached around and knocked the ball from Ben Roethlisberger's grasp. Jenkins recovered the fumble, but the Packers weren't able to convert the early turnover into points.
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila added the third sack came midway through the second quarter on a third-and-10 play, forcing a punt.
The two sacks in the second half came from rookie first-round draft pick Justin Harrell and fellow rookie Larry Birdine, both on No. 3 quarterback Brian St. Pierre. Both led to punts as well.
"It felt good -- it was my first game and I got my first sack," Harrell said. "It's something to build on. I've got a lot of work to do and I just have to keep going out there every day and try to get better."
In all, the five sacks accounted for minus-33 yards.
Overall, the Steelers were just 3-for-14 on third downs in the game, and two of the Packers' early stops came in short-yardage situations.
In the first quarter, linebacker A.J. Hawk led a host of Packers defenders who stuffed Najeh Davenport on a third-and-1. Then late in the second quarter, defensive tackle Johnny Jolly made a nice play to shed his block and stop St. Pierre on a third-and-1 sneak. The Packers turned that stop into their first points of the game, a field goal to close out the first half.
Punters Jon Ryan and Ryan Dougherty shared the punting duties, and both performed well.
Ryan took six punts, averaging 46.8 yards, with a net average of 38.2. Meanwhile Dougherty had four punts for 47.3, with a net average of 36.5.
Both punters had one touchback and two downed inside the 20, but Ryan did the better job at pinning the Steelers deep. He hit one coffin-corner punt perfectly, as it bounced out of bounds on the 3. And one of his pooch punts was downed at the 5.
Dougherty's two inside the 20 were at the Pittsburgh 17-yard line.
No advantage was gained in the kicking battle between Dave Rayner and Mason Crosby. Both kickers hit their lone field goal attempt - Rayner from 32 yards on the final play of the first half, and Crosby from 52 yards late in the third quarter.
Each also boomed a deep kickoff for a touchback, and Rayner had another kickoff reach the goal line that was returned 21 yards.
Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett did not travel with the team on Friday so he could be with his wife for the birth of their third child, Ryan Jr. The baby boy is the couple's first son.
Pickett flew to Pittsburgh on Saturday morning and was in the starting lineup on defense.
The referee for Saturday night's game was Jerome Boger, the father of former Packers defensive back Tra Boger, who was in training camp last year but did not make the final roster.
Jerome Boger was not allowed to referee any of Green Bay's preseason games last year, because his son was on the roster.
The Packers had eight players who did not dress for the game due to injuries. They were cornerbacks Charles Woodson (hamstring) and Al Harris (back), running backs Vernand Morency (knee), P.J. Pope (knee) and DeShawn Wynn (quad), fullback Brandon Miree (neck/stinger), defensive end DeVon Hicks (groin) and offensive lineman Tony Moll (neck/stinger).
With Woodson and Harris out, that meant Patrick Dendy and Jarrett Bush started at the cornerback spots, with Will Blackmon working as the nickelback. On offense, Brandon Jackson started at tailback, and Korey Hall was the starter at fullback.