Washington is coming off a tough 27-23 road loss to the New York Giants. Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III was solid in his first game against an NFC East opponent. However, Washington uncharacteristically committed four turnovers, with Griffin III accounting for half of them (one interception, one fumble lost). The Giants took the lead with a late touchdown, and secured the victory by causing and recovering a fumble by Washington wide receiver Santana Moss on the Redskins’ final drive to win the game.
The injury plagued Steelers are coming off a 24-17 divisional road victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers entered that game starting third string running back Jonathan Dwyer in place of injured running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman. Steelers’ center Maurkice Pouncey also missed the game with a knee injury. But Pittsburgh was able to achieve victory thanks in part to Dwyer’s 122 rushing yards in his first career NFL start.
Washington’s offense will find yardage tough to come by against Pittsburgh’s defense. The Steelers rank ninth in the NFL in rushing yardage allowed. Immovable nose tackle Casey Hampton anchors the defensive line. Even if the Redskins’ offensive line opens some holes for Griffin III and Redskins’ running back Alfred Morris to go through, they’ll still have to deal with hard hitting linebackers James Harrison, Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, and Lamarr Woodley.
Pittsburgh will also be without the services of perennial All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu, who is still nursing an injured right calf. However, the Steelers’ defense ranks second overall in passing yardage allowed. The unit is anchored by cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Ryan Clark, a former Redskins’ player. Washington probably wishes Clark was still on their current roster, considering the Redskins rank dead last in defending the pass.
While Pittsburgh’s rushing attack has been struggling (ranking 31st in the league), they still have the steady and solid Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. He also has speedy wide receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown providing big play ability in the vertical passing game. Tight end Heath Miller is a reliable target over the middle, as well as in the red zone. Roethlisberger and his receivers will have every chance to exploit a Redskins’ secondary whose defensive troubles have been well documented.
Prediction: This is a bad matchup for the Washington Redskins. Despite all of Pittsburgh’s injuries, they still have Roethlisberger under center, as well as the fleet footed Wallace and Brown at receiver. The Steelers’ linebacker corps will make life miserable for Griffin III, whether he wants to run on throw. Factor in Steelers’ running back Chris Rainey’s big play potential, and all signs point to a convincing Steelers’ victory.
Final Score: Steelers 31, Redskins 17.