One week after allowing the Giants a narrow escape, the 3-4 Redskins face another AFC North nemesis in the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Redskins haven't beaten the Steelers this century. Hog Heaven suspects that no NFC Beast team will win 10 games this season after ruining each other and then playing the defenses of the AFC North. The Eagles won ugly against the Steelers and lost narrowly to the Ravens who narrowly beat the Cowboys. Neither the Steelers nor Ravens defense looked like the power houses we are used to seeing. Could Washington pull this off? The Redskins defense is patterned after the Steelers 3-4.
Hog Heaven turned to Bam, our Bloguin colleagues who covers the Steelers for Blitzburgh Blog, to preview the game.
Q. If this game were in Washington, it might have been played in a tropical stormageddon. What's the weather forecast in Pittsburgh?
48F and rainy. Heard it might be pretty windy too, which would be a shame given the excellent QB matchup that we have. It looks like it will be a miserable day but nothing too out of the ordinary for Pittsburgh in late October.
Q. Sports writers are billing the game as RGIII vs. Big Ben. I have a clear picture of what the Redskins would be like without Griffin. How would the Steelers do without Ben Roethlisberger?
The Steelers would be in a world of hurt without Big Ben. The Steelers identify is entirely wrapped up in Roethlisberger's ability to throw the ball and the team has really struggled to run the football with authority and consistency for a couple of years. I grew up watching Neil O'Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart, etc and Roethlisberger is leaps and bounds ahead of all of them. He is the lynchpin of the whole franchise.
Q. How worried are you about Washington's two-headed running game known as Robert Griffin III, Rookie of the Month of September, and Alfred Morris, Rookie of Week 7?
The Steelers defensive line has really struggled to stop the run during much of 2012 so I'm pretty concerned. Historically, nobody has been able to run against the Steelers and this is really the first season where that has been a concern. Chris Johnson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis have had success in recent weeks. The absence of Troy Polamalu has really hurt the Steelers ability to stop the run as well. He's a safety but is like having an extra linebacker because he's at the line of scrimmage so often.
Steelers coach Mike Tomllin has ruled out S Troy Polamalu (calf) and T Marcus Gilbert (ankle) for Sunday's game against the Redskins.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 23, 2012
Q. I love that player known as Antonio Brown. Great name! Give me two players Redskins fans have not heard of who might affect this contest?
It is pretty hard for a Steelers player to fly under the radar given the team's success in recent years, but here are a couple of names for you: Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Rainey. Sanders is the team's third WR behind two big names in Mike Wallace and Brown. He had just as good of a rookie year as Brown did in 2010, but was banged up last year. He has big play potential and Roethlisberger trusts him. Rainey is a lightning fast rookie RB who is going to see a lot of time this weekend with injuries to Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman. Rainey is going to get most of his touches on third down and in the return game.
Q. How should the Redskins offense attack the Steelers defense?
Run the ball right at them and attack the defense with short passes. The best way to conquer the Steelers defense is to neutralize their pass rush and complicated blitzing schemes. If RGIII is taking 5 or 7-step drops consistently and trying to diagnose Pittsburgh's defense scheme with James Harrison bearing down on him, it could be a long day for Redskins fans. However, the Steelers don't play aggressive coverage on the outside and teams can dink and dunk right down the field if they are patient and keep throwing underneath routes.
Morris Named NFL Week 7 Rookie Of Week: For the fourth time in seven weeks, fans have selected a Redskin as the ... redsk.in/RSbHn7— Redskins (@Redskins) October 26, 2012
Q. How should the Redskins defense stop the Steelers offense?
The Steelers obvious weakness on the offensive side is the offensive line, but Roethlisberger is able to somewhat neutralize that because he is so elusive and hard to bring down in the pocket. He will cough the ball up sometimes, though, and forcing him into mistakes is the best way to stop the offense. The Steelers have been killer on third down this year so that's something to watch as well. Forcing Pittsburgh into a lot of third and longs would go a long way to earning the Skins a win on the road.
Q. Your game prediction and score?
I think the game is going to be high scoring and very entertaining, but at the end of the day I still like Pittsburgh's defense better than Washington's. I think they can make a couple more stops. The Steelers have only lost one game at home since the 2011 season and their defense is especially stiff at Heinz Field. Steelers 31, Redskins 24.
For excellent Steelers coverage, check out the writers at Blitzburgh Blog.
Image: August 11, 2011, Larry French/Getty Images North America via zimbio.com.
Image: Steelers throwback jerseys to be worn for Redskins game.
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