The Pittsburgh Steelers scored at will in the first half to run out to a lead they would not relinquish against the Washington Redskins. Pittsburgh notched an important 27-12 victory to raise its record to 4-3, within one game of AFC North division leader Baltimore Ravens.
It was an increasingly soggy day as a light misty rain fell throughout the game. This may have had an effect on Washington’s receivers’ ability to catch passes. Can you believe that Redskin pass catchers dropped TEN balls? Many of these were drive-killers, and could have potentially kept points off the board. It aided in Robert Griffin III looking like an ordinary human being with no cape. Griffin completed under 50% of his passes and rushed for only 8 yards.
I attended the game and enjoyed a perch in the closed end of the field (north end zone, section 527). I was impressed by the number of Redskin fans that were present. For most Steeler home games, I would estimate that about 3-5% of the crowd is cheering for the opponents (or, at least willing to wear their colors). For this contest, Washington fans showed up stronger – perhaps closer to 7-10% were wearing burgundy and gold. In my row alone, there were eight seats, four of which were occupied by Redskin supporters.
The surprising thing about Sunday’s game was that I saw approximately 3,000 empty seats. I’ll give those fans the benefit of the doubt – perhaps they were in the concourses dodging the raindrops. The weather was not all that oppressive that it warranted not showing up for the game.
Fiji was the recording artist who performed the Star-Spangled Banner. This is noteworthy because of his Polynesian descent. He and Troy Polamalu shared a few words and laughs after the anthem was sung. Of course, Fiji waved the obligatory Terrible Towel at the conclusion of his strong vocal rendition.
Even though it was a dreary day, the Steeler battle cry, rock band Styx’s song “Renegade,” before a needed defensive stop still sent tingles up and down my spine. The video montage of defensive hits, the fans’ increasing decibel level, the frenetic waving of Terrible Towels is quite a sight to behold.
Brett Keisel has achieved folk hero status in Pittsburgh. When he and his Paul Bunyan beard make an appearance on the Heinz Field scoreboard, the fans absolutely erupt.
The Pittsburgh Steelers throwback uniforms made it a challenge to identify players by their numbers, from my section anyways.
You Win Some, You Lose Some
O-Line – The offensive line played its second consecutive impressive game. The run blocking was excellent. Jonathan Dwyer seems to work in concert with the guys up front, using the cutback runs when they are available or plowing forward when that is the better option. The pass blocking was even more superb. There was one sack…and it was wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders who took the sack (and he should have thrown the ball away)! Maurkice Pouncey’s return to action helped. Rookie Mike Adams’ stalwart play in two starts at right tackle gives Pittsburgh hope for the future. Max Starks is dependable as can be at left tackle. Willie Colon is quickly becoming a mauling, nasty left guard after switching from right tackle in years past. Ramon Foster is no slouch either at right guard.
Dick Lebeau – Apparently, the base 3-4 defense is kryptonite for Griffin. Of course the Washington drops didn’t help, but your Steelers defensive coordinator dialed up the perfect game plan to combat RG3’s athleticism. No turnovers forced? One sack (due to a fumbled exchange)? Yes, that’s true…but 12 points against and 255 total yards against. Pittsburgh won the battle of the bottom line.
Tight Ends / Fullbacks – Who caught Ben’s three red zone touchdown passes? Heath Miller, Leonard Pope, and Will Johnson. It shows the diversity of the offense by involving so many different weapons.
Keenan Lewis / Will Allen – These two guys have been widely unheralded, but their pass break-ups were timely on more than one occasion.
Jonathan Dwyer – When given the opportunity, Dwyer has taken advantage. In back-to-back starts, he has rushed for 100+ yards in each contest (the first time this has been accomplished by a Steeler since 2008 – by Willie Parker). Dwyer may give Mike Tomlin a difficult decision in how to divide the workload when Rashard Mendenhall is 100% healthy. This has the potential to alter the future of the Steeler backfield, as Mendenhall’s contract expires at the end of the season.
4th Down Gambles – Both Pittsburgh and Washington scored first half touchdowns on 4th and goal situations. Pittsburgh took its opening drive and punched in a TD when Ben Roethlisberger hit third string TE, Leonard Pope with a play action pass. Robert Griffin III had two TD passes on the first drive…that were dropped by Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss. It took a fourth down quick slant to Santana Moss for Washington to convert its first score of the day.
Antonio Brown – The next time you moon walk for 20 yards into the end zone (on a punt return that didn’t count due to a holding penalty), expect to be serenaded by boo birds. That shows classlessness. Grow up!
Deangelo Hall – Usually, I reserve this space to discuss only Steelers. But, watching Hall scrap with Emmanuel Sanders didn’t appear to equate to the hostility that Hall showed to the referees. He calmly took off his helmet, then dropped F-bomb after F-bomb. Then, his anger rose to where he would not leave anyone wearing black and white vertical stripes alone until they “excused” him for the remainder of the afternoon and improved Pittsburgh’s field position by 30 yards. Another classless moment.
Injured safeties – The Steelers finished the game with their Will Allen and Ryan Mundy as their safeties. Troy Polamalu continues to deal with a strained calf and Ryan Clark sustained a concussion in the third quarter. Clark briefly stated, “I’m fine” in the locker room following the game.
1934 Throwback Uniforms – There’s a reason that the bumblebee yellow and black horizontal stripes with the jail block numbers haven’t been used in 78 years. Unfortunately, these unis will be rolled out for another game this season.
I apologize for the delay in getting this game recap posted. The five-hour trek home following the Steeler game along with internet outages caused by Hurricane Sandy made it rather challenging. My thoughts are with all those affected by the hurricane. I hope that everyone can quickly resume their everyday life.
About the Author
Written by Rob Stroup
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so I have followed the Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) since the womb. It has become a tradition to make the yearly trek to a Steelers and Penguins game each year despite the distance. I hope to make writing a profession because I thoroughly enjoy attempting to paint a picture with words.