On Monday night, the Steelers continue their trek through the NFC East, when they face the Washington Redskins. Pittsburgh has not done very well against the NFL’s toughest division, going 0-2 so far this season. The Steelers have already lost to the first place team in the division (the New York Giants), and the last place team (the Philadelphia Eagles). Now they must face the remaining two teams, the Washington Redskins, and the Dallas Cowboys.
Despite their losses to their first two NFC East opponents, the Steelers had an opportunity to win both games. The Steelers were winning each game, but turnovers and mental errors doomed them in each contest. Both the Eagles and the Giants used a heavy pass rush to pressure Ben Roethlisberger. Until Bruce Arians can prove that he can put together a game plan to counter the all-out-blitz, the Steelers should expect to see more of the same from the Redskins. Fortunately, the Redskins are one of the worst pass rushing teams in the NFL, and have only 10 sacks on the season. That’s 4th worst in the league.
The Redskins are in 2nd place in the tough NFC East. However, they are coming off a difficult 25-17 win versus the lowly Detroit Lions. The Redskins are 6-2, and present an interesting challenge for the 5-2 Steelers.
The Steelers last faced the Redskins back in 2004, when they defeated them 16-7. The Steelers have won the last three contests against the Redskins. However, the Redskins lead the historical series 42-30-3.
The Redskins are a team that appears to be finally gaining their stride after struggling early on under new head coach Jim Zorn.
The storyline of the game will probably be the Steelers defense (#1 in the NFL) versus Redskins’ running back Clinton Portis, the leading rusher in the NFL this season. Portis is averaging 118 yards per game, and already has almost 1,000 yards rushing this season, with 944 yards. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ stingy defense is only allowing 71.6 rushing yards per game.
On defense, the Redskins are no slouches, boasting the NFL’s #6 ranked unit. They are #11 against the pass, and #5 against the run.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have the NFL’s #25 ranked offense. They’ve been so woeful at times, that they are ranked just ahead of such terrible offenses as the Oakland Raiders (#26), and the Kansas City Chiefs (#27). Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has seemed incapable of putting together a game plan that establishes an effective passing game. The Steelers’ passing attack is ranked # 24 in the NFL, averaging only 184.4 passing yards per game. Historically, this would not have been a problem, since the Steelers have always had one of the most powerful rushing attacks in the NFL. However, with a suspect offensive line and Willie Parker being injured for much of the year, the Steelers are averaging only 107.3 rushing yards per game. This un-Steelerlike rushing attack, combined with a poor passing attack, leads to the Steelers’ low offensive production.
Fortunately, the Steelers’ defense has contained opposing offenses so effectively, that their offense has not needed to be particularly productive. As the Steelers hit the half-way point in their 2008 schedule, it would be great to see the offense finally get it’s bearings and become the innovative attack that most expected when Bruce Arians was hired.
The Steelers’ offense should be helped by the return of
bong boy wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Holmes was suspended last game due to an arrest for marijuana possession. Holmes is the Steelers’ best deep threat, and his return should be a welcome addition for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Steelers Injury Report
Willie Parker has missed 4 games with a knee injury, but he says he is ready to play this week. If he is not able to go, Mewelde Moore will once again be a capable replacement.
Chris Kemoeatu has a sprained ankle, and will probably be replaced by Trai Essex.
LaMarr Woodley injured his calf against the Giants, but he expects to play Monday night against the Redskins.
Ryan Clark is not expected to play, and will probably be replaced by Tyrone Carter, but Anthony Smith may also see some playing time.
Marvell Smith is still suffering from back spasms, and Max Starks will get the start.
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