The Washington Redskins (3-5) failed to threaten the outcome of the game even once in Sunday’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3), which was arguably the Burgundy and Gold’s worst performance of the season thus far.
Everything about the Redskins’ performance at Heinz Field was ugly – the offense dropped balls, Robert Griffin III threw off-target on key plays, the patchy defense failed to stifle the Steelers… even the weather was atrocious, as Hurricane Sandy’s outer bands pelted fans and players alike with icy rain throughout the day.
Whether or not weather played a factor, the Redskins repeatedly lost their grip of the ball and, as a result, they missed critical opportunities to put points on the board.
Griffin went just 16-for-34 for 177 yards and a touchdown and picked up 10 rushing yards.
On the very first drive of the game, the Steelers quickly demonstrated how they would maintain control of the ball throughout the day. Without turning any monster plays, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers downfield as the offensive line chipped away at the Redskins’ ailing defense. On 12 plays for 76 yards in just over seven minutes, the Steelers attacked first with a short touchdown pass to tight end Leonard Pope for an early 7-0 lead.
Thanks to the Redskins’ diminished defense, the Steelers had no problem tacking on points – and they did so on their next three consecutive drives.
After former Redskin Shaun Suisham centered a 48-yard field goal to expand the Steelers’ lead to 10-0, the Redskins offense showed signs of life.
Griffin threw to Leonard Paulsen for 31 yards to bring Washington to the Steelers’ 37-yard line. Alfred Morris picked up five yards and on second and 5 at the Steelers’ 22-yard line, Griffin fired to Leonard Hankerson for a would-be touchdown pass, but the ball popped right out of Hankerson’s hands.
After an incomplete pass to Briscoe, Morris and Josh Morgan picked up another six and five yards respectively before a false start penalty forced the Redskins to try again from first and 8 at the Steelers’ 8-yard line. Griffin himself took the ball three yards after an incomplete pass to Santana Moss, but it fell short of a first down and, on fourth and 2, Griffin found Moss through the thick of the Steelers’ defense to tally six points. Redskins fans were painfully reminded of their kicker woes when Ziggy Hood successfully blocked Kai Forbath’s extra point attempt.
The Steelers answered on their next drive. Antonio Brown picked up 14 yards before managing to maintain control of an off-balance throw from Roethlisberger to pick up another 18 yards and position the Steelers on the Redskins’ 17-yard line. Roethlisberger passed to Mike Wallace for 10 yards before finding Heath Miller for a seven yard touchdown to put the Steelers up 17-6.
With just over four minutes left in the half, Suisham tacked on another three points for Pittsburgh with a 27-yard field goal to expand their lead to 20-6.
The Redskins did nothing in response. In fact, Griffin threw three passes on the next drive – to Evan Royster, Morgan and Moss – all of which were dropped, and the Steelers regained possession in just over 30 seconds. In the first half alone, the Redskins managed six dropped balls.
The Redskins got things started early in the third quarter with a 48-yard field goal by Forbath, but Roethlisberger led the Steelers to another touchdown drive with short passes to Will Johnson, Baron Batch and Miller. On third and 3 from Washington’s 21-yard line, Roethlisberger provided tricks – and no treats – for the Redskins’ defense as he fooled the front line into thinking the snap went over his head. Instead, it landed right into Chris Rainey’s hands, allowing the Steelers to pick up 19 yards. On second and 1, Roethlisberger tossed to Johnson for the touchdown and the Steelers took a commanding 27-9 lead.
Forbath managed a 45-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter to trim the Steelers’ lead to 27-12, but the Redskins never threatened again.
With just over five minutes left in the game, the Redskins’ frustrations turned ugly. On first and 10, DeAngelo Hall lost his cool and berated an official, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and an ejection. It is likely he will be suspended from play next week when the Redskins take on the Panthers.