Steelers 38 – Redskins 16
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a popular pick to get back to the Super Bowl for the third time in the Mike Tomlin era. In Monday night’s 38-16 victory over the Washington Redskins, the Steelers looked like the team many pundits see as the team to beat in the AFC.
Did tonight’s win play into the belief that Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are just too good to be shutdown that offsets the losses of key contributors on offense due to suspensions or injuries?
For one night it was Le’Veon Who? Martavis Who?
And what can’t get overlooked is how this offense is built to plug in just about any type of skilled player.
Ben Roethlisberger shined in the win, going 27/37 for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception. Short, intermediate or long, Roethlisberger could make any throw he wanted.
DeAngelo Williams rushed for 143 yards and Antonio Brown was Antonio Brown with 8 catches for 126 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
It was another day at the office for an offense with the goal of averaging 30 points per season.
What the Steelers also lived by tonight was their identity.
The Redskins on their opening drive in their home opener have a 4th and 1 at the Steelers 40 yard line. Jay Gruden doesn’t give it any thought and punts.
For the Steelers, being conservative isn’t in their DNA.
“We play to win,” Mike Tomlin said afterwards.
Pittsburgh’s 14-6 lead at the half was predicated by being bold on 4th down.
Down 6-0, on a 4th and 1 at the 29 yard line, the Steelers get Antonio Brown in 1-on-1 coverage on the left side and Roethlisberger, Brown connect for a 29 yard touchdown pass as the Redskins had no help over the top.
Brown’s touchdown capped off an 11 play, 75 yard drive.
Pittsburgh then ended the half with a 14 play, 67 yard touchdown drive that was highlighted with another critical 4th conversion. This time a 4th and 1 at the Redskins 34 yard line that turned into a 19 yard Eli Rogers catch and run as Roethlisberger read the situation with the Redskins loading the box.
Rogers would then finish off the drive with a tipped touchdown catch that bounced off intended receiver Sammie Coates.
Rogers who had a miscue on Roethlisberger first quarter interception, led the Steelers with 6 receptions for 59 yards in the first half. He had no catches in the second half but his fit in the offense continues to evolve.
The ability for the Steelers to be bold and aggressive on offense was also helped by the Steelers putting themselves in several manageable third downs. It led to Roethlisberger being able to pick apart the Redskins on third down to go with the big plays on 4th down.
The Antonio Brown – Josh Norman Matchup
So much made about the Brown – Norman matchup and the Steelers didn’t bother playing into the matchup.
Pittsburgh game planned to play Brown on the left side and either force the Redskins to play Norman on his off side or get Brown in many favorable matchups if the Redskins kept Norman stationed on the left side of their defense.
What a tough night for Bashaud Breeland.
The Redskins opted not to follow Brown around the field and Brown torched the Redskins deep for two scores, one for 29 yards and another 26 yards.
Last season Brown only had 1 touchdown pass of 20 yards or more. Tonight he had two.
Zone Defense, Steelers confuse Cousins
The Steelers defense in the first three quarters starred through their zone defense. A dangerous vertical passing team last season, the Steelers made Kirk Cousins have to focus on check downs.
Many times the Steelers had seven defenders playing the zone and most striking was Cousins’ poor reads in believing the Steelers were blitzing when they were dropping back in coverage. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"