PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania—Ben Roethlisberger took control of the game immediately before Hurricane Sandy’s rain-filled clouds could move into Heinz Field. Roethlisberger threw his first of three touchdown passes to backup tight end Leonard Pope, who just needed to cradle the ball and fall back into the end zone for the one-yard touchdown catch.
Starting tight end Heath Miller needed to go just six yards farther to connect on Roethlisberger’s second touchdown of the game. Miller’s 37th career touchdown came in a 27-12 win over the Redskins on a day when Miller would tie Elbie Nickel for first place in touchdowns by a tight end: “Obviously he was a great player for this organization so I guess these things kind of come with the territory if you stick around long enough and obviously it’s an honor to be associated with him (Elbie Nickel)."
Pittsburgh’s win was the team's fifth straight over the Redskins and the fourth straight time they didn't allow Washington to score more than 12 points. The Pittsburgh defense stymied Washington’s big-play quarterback Robert Griffin III, holding him to just eight yards rushing, his second lowest total in 2012: “We know he’s the real deal,” said linebacker Larry Foote, who sacked Griffin for a loss of eight, adding that “there where some plays they left out there.” Foote is referring to the 10 dropped passes by the Redskins, leading Griffin to go 16-of-34 with 177 yards and one touchdown.
The rhythm of the Steelers offense took advantage of the Redskins fifth-worst scoring defense by scoring on five of their six offensive drives and putting the Redskins in the position to lean heavily on their rookie quarterback, voiding the option to rush the ball. The Steelers offense is starting to hit its stride, clicking on all cylinders with the rushing game finally catching up with the passing game.
Jonathan Dwyer reached 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive game, something that hasn’t been done since 2008 with his 107 yards on 17 carries: “Each one correlates each other and allows us to make big plays,” said Antonio Brown. “This is the part of the season where we want to be consistent and get better and start stacking wins.”
This is the first time in 2012 the Steelers have stacked wins. The win today put them at 4-3 overall and only one game behind the division-leading Baltimore Ravens, who where idle this week on their bye: “Good win for us in all three phases,” said head coach Mike Tomlin, adding, “I liked the overall energy.”
The Washington defense's inability to hold off the Steelers from putting points on the board put this game out of reach early on, with Pittsburgh taking a 20-6 lead into the locker room at the half. Pittsburgh would dominate the time of possession 18:24 to 11:36, putting up two drives of 70-plus yards. Roethlisberger continued his strong play, finishing the game with 222 yards on 24-of-34 passing, three touchdowns and no turnovers.
The second half would pave the way for the Steelers to utilize Dwyer, who carried the football 10 time for 46 yards: “I like to get a few carries under my belt at the beginning of the game,” said Dwyer. “Once I feel how the defense is playing, that’s how I get my rhythm going. I feel that is what any running back would say.”
While Coach Tomlin refers to the team stacking wins, defensive end Brett Keisel said, “I call them hotcakes because who doesn’t like to stack hotcakes.” Next week, the Steelers travel east to take on the defending Super Bowl champions the New York Giants. The last time both teams met in 2008 at Heinz Field the Giants won, 21-14: “A good team win,” said Keisel, "and we will enjoy the win today and go back to work tomorrow.”
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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