The Washington Redskins were powerless against the Pittsburgh Steelers' high powered offense as the two teams kicked off ESPN's Monday Night Football in the National Football League. The nation's capital was the sight for a great start to the season for the Steelers and a disappointing loss for the home team.
Pittsburgh came into this game knowing that their defense would not be as strong as they would like and would thus have to try and limit the amount of long throws that the Redskins could get while also looking to their offense to put up big numbers as they had done last year. The coaching staff was right to trust the offense as they pulled out a 38-16 win over the Redskins and did so easily.
The Steelers defends bends but does not break
The game started off well for the Redskins. The Washington defense kept the Steelers offense on the back foot in the first quarter and allowed their offense to target a Steelers' secondary that has been decimated by injuries. The first big play of the game came from Redskins corner Bashaud Breeland when he intercepted a deflected pass by Steelers quarter back Ben Roethlisberger than was intended for Eli Rogers. The defense was not done and later in the first quarter, they caused another three-and-out for the Steelers. The Redskins pass rush got to Roethlisberger, who looked uneasy early on, and forced him to fumble the ball. Steelers centre Maurkice Pouncey fell on the ball and prevented a turnover deep in the Pittsburgh half.
Quarter back Kirk Cousins took the opportunities his defense gave him and targeted his wide receivers as often as he could as the Redskins were able to go down the field many times. Unfortunately for them, when it came to the red zone, the Steelers defense stood firm and limited the Redskins to two converted field goals. The Redskins needed to capitalize on the time on the ball they had but they failed to do so. A key reason for that was also the fact the Steelers defense were playing a lot of zone coverage, thus preventing any big plays by someone like DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon who usually thrive from big plays down the field.
The Steelers offense start to find its rhythm
With each failed red zone visit by the Redskins, their fans could probably sense that they would be punished for not making the most of the slow start by the Pittsburgh Steelers and they were right. The second quarter was all about the Steelers as they began to dominate proceedings. After driving down the field, the Steelers were faced with a fourth and one on the Washington 29 yard line. Offensive coordinator Todd Hayley went for it and Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown for a 29 yard touchdown pass.
When the Steelers drive would stall, wide receiver Eli Rogers who was starting tonight due to injuries to Marcus Wheaton and Martyvius Bryant's ineligibility due to suspension, found a way to keep the chains moving. Roethlisberger found him often in the slot and he was able to make his catches and get first downs for the Steelers. It was only fitting that at the end of the first half, Rogers got his own touchdown, his first in the NFL. With the Steelers three yards out of the end zone, Roethlisberger targeted wide receiver Sammie Coates and the ball came off of Coates; hands and right into the hands of Rogers. An unbelievable play that worked out well for the Steelers.
Brown and Williams take over the game
Although the Redskins found their only touchdown of the game in the second half through an up tempo drive that ended with a one yard run by running back Chris Thompson, the Steelers were firmly in control. Antonio Brown began to dominate his side of the field and after a Ryan Shazier interception gave the ball back to the Steelers, Roethlisberger found his favourite target in Brown for another Pittsburgh touchdown. This was the only time that Redskins corner Josh Norman had lined up on the left side to defend Brown and the Steelers wide receiver made him pay.
The Steelers were on the front foot and proceeded to push the score up. A third and long that could have resulted in a sack for Roethlisberger ended up being a big conversion to Brown as the quarter back stepped up away from pressure to make the throw. This set up the Steelers in the red zone and DeAngelo Williams, who ended the night with 143 rushing yards, slipped some tackles to get his first touchdown of the night. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers added an exclamation mark to their win when Williams scored another easy rushing touchdown against a clearly tired Redskins defense. Veteran James Harrison had the last play of the game when he intercepted the ball in the end zone as the Redskins tried to salvage something from the game.
It was a historic night for Pittsburgh's Roethlisberger as he became the first NFL quarter back to complete 500 passes to three different receivers. Brown also started off the season well as he ended his night with two touchdowns and 126 receiving yards, making many fantasy players happy to have selected him tonight.