The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Washington Redskins 27-12 Sunday at Heinz Field and below are my first half notes from the game with the second half notes to follow soon.
A nice start by Jonathan Dwyer as he turns a possible stuff into positive yardage. The fake bubble screen that resulted in an explosive play to Heath Miller was nicely designed and well executed. The first catch by Mike Wallace on the opening drive was a bullet from Ben Roethlisberger. Wallace knew where the sticks were and the Steelers move the chains. Roethlisberger converts to Emmanuel Sanders after he ran a nice pivot route. Sanders got some good yards after the catch in addition. It\’s back to the bubble screen to Wallace on the next play and Antonio Brown helps with a nice block. On 3rd and goal Dwyer misses the hole opened up by Willie Colon and a pulling Ramon Foster. On 4th and goal Leonard Pope scores off a nice pick set by David Paulson, who had motioned back inside from out wide during the pre snap. Pope does a good job of selling it, as does the offensive line, as they run the fake trap to the left, away from Pope. 7-0 Steelers
On the Redskins first offensive play, and end-around, James Harrison fails to provide backside contain and Ryan Clark is forced to come up and make the tackle after a 9 yard gain. Harrison bounces right back though by blowing up the toss left to Alfred Morris. Keenan Lewis comes up to help with that stuff. On third down it is Harrison and Casey Hampton that provide solid penetration and Larry Foote cleans up the second stuff. The Redskins go three and out.
On first down the Steelers left side of the offensive line clears out the Redskins front to the left against a safety run blitz and Dwyer has tons of running room for a huge gain to the backside. Dwyer gets good yardage after first contact downfield as well as he easily breaks an arm tackle. The end around option pass that Sanders wants to attempt is blown up as the Redskins are not fooled. At first I thought this was just a designed run and wondered why it was scored a sack, but after further review, Sanders was clearly going to try and throw. A shallow cross to Wallace picks up some needed yards on 3rd down and the Steelers are forced to settle for a field goal. 10-0 Steelers
Will Allen is sucked in on the double play-action on the Redskins next drive and Robert Griffin III easily hits Logan Paulsen for a big gain as the tight end ran right past Allen on the play. Allen at least recovers to track down Paulsen to make the tackle. LaMarr Woodley chooses Griffin on the read option that follows and Darrel Young runs right up the middle for good yardage. The Redskins run play-action again and Griffin rolls out to his right as Leonard Hankerson easily gets behind Foote for an easy score but drops the pass. This was the first of several drops in the game for the Redskins. Griffin does manage to convert to Santana Moss on an out route as he was able to get separated from Cortez Allen off of a simple rub. That was the last play of the first quarter. On first down the Redskins run play-action again and Griffin fires a pass to Dezmon Briscoe in the end zone, but Lewis manages to break it up barely. Had Griffin led his receiver a little more it would have been an easy touchdown. Once again the Redskins convert, though, and the drive stays alive. Lewis and Ziggy Hood combine for stop on a designed keeper on third down by Griffin and the Redskins choose to go for it on fourth. Griffin hits Moss for the short touchdown as Lewis is rubbed off on the play. Despite the rub, Lewis almost managed to still break up the pass. Hood did manage to block the extra point. Steelers 10-6
Chris Rainey manages to convert a short third down up the middle to keep the next Steelers drive alive that included a drop by Wallace. A quick pass to the right side to Brown gets the Steelers offense well into Redskins territory. Sanders delivered a nice cut block on the play to free Brown. Brown follows it up with a nice catch of high pass from Roethlisberger against man coverage and the Steelers are inside the red zone now. Rainey drops a short pass from Roethlisberger on a jerk route, but the offense manages to recover two plays later when Roethlisberger hits Miller in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Roethlisberger did a great job of keeping the play alive to give Miller time to free himself. Big, big play. Steelers 17-6
Griffin rolls out right on first down and overthrows a wide open Paulsen who was being trailed by Harrison. Will Allen has a nice breakup of a pass intended for Chris Cooley. Clark and Cameron Heyward combine for a second down tackle which sets up the third down trick play pass to Griffin down the left sideline that Ike Taylor has covered fairly well. Clark gets a legal shot in on the quarterback for good measure and the flag that is thrown ends up being on Griffin, who pushed off on the play. Harrison almost had the start of the play blown up in the backfield, but he couldn\’t make the shoestring tackle after the initial pitch. The Redskins are forced to punt as a result.
Roethlisberger hits Sanders, who got good separation from DeAngelo Hall on an underneath crossing route off of a rub by Miller and it goes for big yardage. At this point the Steelers offense has three explosive plays and they will not have another one for the rest of the game. Dwyer bulls left for a nice gain thanks to good blocks by Colon and Max Starks. Dwyer again gets extra yards after the first contact on the play. The Steelers are now in the red zone once again, but the drive unfortunately stalls and the they are forced to settle for another field goal. Steelers 20-6
Lewis has yet another pass break up on a ball intended for Josh Morgan which stops the clock and sets up a third and 10 for the Redskins with 1:41 left in the half. On 3rd down it is Will Allen who manages to break up a pass intended for Moss and the Redskins are forced to punt after a three and out. Moss did juggle the ball and should have come down with it despite the hit.
The Steelers get great field position after the return by Brown and a five yard penalty, but they can\’t turn it into points after Roethlisberger hits the umpire in the head with a 3rd down pass that appeared to slip out of his hand. On the ensuing punt it is Curtis Brown that is downfield to catch the Drew Butler punt at the Redskins one yard-line.
The Redskins get enough yardage on their first two plays that include a penalty on Hampton and Griffin kneels to end the half.
It was a solid half for the Steelers offense, but they very easily could have had 35 points up on the board just the same. That being said, they laid the ground work for the second half as the Redskins defense was at a loss as to what to defend.