The Pittsburgh Steelers started off slow on both sides of the ball, with the defense giving up a couple of long drives to start, but only gave up an initial field goal, and then another on a drive that started at their own 37, but the offense came back to finish the half with two touchdowns, one a long shot to Antonio Brown on fourth and one and then on a deflected pass to Eli Rogers.
The Steelers also get the ball to start the second half. The defense has given up some yardage, and has has lacked much of a pass-rushing presence, but are playing well as the field narrows. But it won’t matter much if the offense continues to pick up where they left off in the second quarter.
Yet another touchback to the back of the end zone got things started off, with Ben Roethlisberger and the offense beginning at the 25-yard line. DeAngelo Williams picked up seven yards with space around the left side, behind David DeCastro pulling. On second and three, off play action, Roethlisberger threw under duress incomplete on a pass that tipped up in the air. On third and three, the back shoulder to Brown moved the sticks plus more.
From the 48, Williams found more space off the left side with David Johnson pulling for 17. But he was stopped near the line of scrimmage on the following play looking to run the opposite direction. Fitzgerald Toussaint replaced Williams and did a nice job fighting through contact for about six yards. Roethlisberger’s third-down pass was low off the ground to an open Jesse James, an unfortunate end to a promising drive, but Chris Boswell’s 46-yard field goal attempt was quite near perfect, to take a 17-6 lead. The second-year kicker followed with his fourth touchback of the night in four attempts, a vast improvement from his first season.
Kirk Cousins suffered another false start to begin his first drive of the second half. James Harrison met Thompson looking to find the offensive left edge for a short loss. Jamison Crowder picked up about half the needed yardage to set up a third and long. The Redskins picked up the first down, with Ryan Shazier stripping the ball, but Pierre Garcon picked up the ball and ran for extra yardage to the 44. Shazier came back on the next play to intercept Cousins on a forced deep shot, returning it deep into Washington territory, but an illegal block in the back on Mike Mitchell wiped out the return.
From the 25, Roethlisberger threw a high pass snagged by Brown, but for no yardage, after he saw nothing open down the field. On second down, Roethlisberger picked a bad snap off the ball and flicked it deep to Sammie Coates, who climbed up above the cornerback for the explosive play for a 42-yard gain. Now at the Redskins’ 33, Roethlisberger checked down to Williams, who made the first defender miss to pick up eight yards. Under pressure, Roethlisberger shoveled a pass to Williams, but he could not hold on. On third and three, Roethlisberger took another look down the field on a go route, making the over-the-shoulder grab for yet another touchdown as the Steelers took a 24-6 lead. Brown was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on his…interesting celebration dance, to be enforced on the kickoff, which may finally yield a return.
The kickoff from the 20 was fielded at about the one, and was returned beyond the 30-yard line. From the 32, Matt Jones forced two missed tackles for a first-down run. A quick pass to DeSean Jackson up the left sideline came close to another. On second and one, a quick pass to the left crossed midfield. From the 41 following a false start, Thompson picked up about 11 on the underneath throw. Garcon converted against off coverage.
From the 20, Ricardo Mathews made the tackle, but a hold negated it. Sean Davis was there to tackle Garcon after a five-yard gain. Another underneath pass to Garcon set up third and six. Cousins’ third-down pass was out of bounds over the fart right corner of the end zone. But a field goal did make the score 24-9 and a two-score game.
Following a touchback, Roethlisberger opened in a 13 look on the ground with Williams for a four-yard game. Keeping it on the ground, Williams pushed forward for close to another four yards to set up a manageable third down. On third and two, Roethlisberger looked to throw quickly to Brown in the flat, but the low pass could not be held on to and the Steelers punted for the first time in a long time. Jordan Berry‘s second punt was fielded at the six, but returned to the 22 as the coverage lagged behind, still a 45-yard net.
Shazier banged down Jones after an eight-yard reception to end the half, and the Redskins converted on the first play of the fourth. A long ball to Garcon two plays later reached the 37-yard line of the Steelers between Ross Cockrell and Robert Golden. Mike Mitchell laid out Jamison Crowder following a first-down reception, but Stephon Tuitt put a hit on Cousins after the pass.
The defense showed awful tackling, with five players missing a tackle to set up first and goal from the one, and Thompson followed it up with an easy touchdown to follow, putting pressure on the Steelers offense now by making it a one-score game at 24-16. Washington had to take a delay of game in setting up the extra point attempt after struggling to get the right personnel on the field.
Shazier was not in on that last drive, being checked for an injury, replaced by L.J. Fort. The ensuing kickoff was short and returned by Toussaint to the 27.
The offense, now with just an eight-point lead, stood in the pocket and finally checked down to Williams for a gain of four. He was able to get to the edge on the draw run for a first down. Staying with Williams, he found four yards up the middle. James was able to pick up the first down across midfield for a new set of downs.
On a run that didn’t look like much, Williams escaped for about seven or eight yards, and nearly broke for more. On second and two, he forced his way forward to move the sticks once again. Toussaint was stopped in the backfield for a loss of a couple in spelling Williams on the next play. Roethlisberger threw to Brown with Josh Norman in coverage, incomplete, for a rare stop of the clock. Now third and 13, Roethlisberger found Coates for 14 yards to move the sticks, as he spelled Brown for one play.
From the 27, Williams went found space for a first-down run, but it was negated due to a hold on James, knocking the offense out of field goal range. On first and 15, the Redskins did not bite on a misdirection screen to Williams, who was tackled for a loss of four yards. On second and 19, Roethlisberger stepped up in the pocket and threw across his body to find Brown coming back to the ball for the first down.
From the 15, Williams stepped right through two tacklers near the line of scrimmage with nobody in front of him for the touchdown, the Steelers’ fourth of the night as they go over 30 points for the game. Shazier was downgraded to out.
After the touchback, a 12-yard pass started out the drive, but on the second play, Cousins was hit as he threw, with the ball popping out, though ruled incomplete. It was Fort on the nit, who was held on the play by the back but not called. Yet (another) false start made up for that non-call just a bit. Mitchell did a nice job of defending an underneath play to Crowder to force an incompletion. On third and 15, the Redskins came nowhere near the first down, with Cousins throwing underneath. Now fourth and 10, Arthur Moats took Cousins out of bounds a couple yards shy of the first-down marker after he was forced to scramble under duress, resulting in a turnover on downs, the second of the game.
With the offense now feeding Williams the ball, the 33-year-old back shook a tackle to pick up a first down and more. From the 32, he was stuffed near the line of scrimmage as the Redskins used their first timeout. A patient run allowed him to pick up about four more as Washington burned another timeout with a bit over three minutes remaining in the opening contest. On third and five, Roethlisberger came back to Brown for his eighth reception of the game, now at 126 yards.
From the 11, Williams slipped one man to pick up about five yards up the middle as the game hit the two-minute warning. From the six, Williams was led by James around the left side for his second touchdown of the game.
After a touchback, Cousins fired his first pass just beyond the first-down marker to move the sticks. Another short pass to Reed picked up a first with the clock moving. Yet another quick first-down pass to move the sticks, but keeping the clock going.
Cousins went deep to Jackson on the long ball, incomplete, but Cockrell was flagged for pass interference on the play. Down to the nine-yard line, a quick pass to Crowder reached the three. Cousins’ pass on second down was thrown away. On third down, Harrison intercepted the pass in the end zone.