Five Things the Washington Redskins Must Do To Beat the Pittsburgh Steelers
Robert Griffin III leads the Washington Redskins into Pittsburgh
The Washington Redskins are currently in last place in the NFC East at 3-4. They put forth a solid effort in Week Seven against the New York Giants, but came up on the short end of a 27-23 score. The Super Bowl 46 champion Giants needed a touchdown in the final two minutes, as well as a defensive stop, to secure the victory.
Washington Redskins’ fans should be proud of the effort the Redskins put forth against New York. Not only was the game close throughout, but the Redskins probably should have won the game. Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III is establishing himself as a good quarterback during his young career. He wasn’t intimidated by Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning, or the Giants’ pass rush. This game proved that Washington can play with any team in the league.
Next up for the Redskins will be a Week Eight road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are currently second in the AFC North with a 3-3 record. The injury plagued Steelers are coming off a 24-17 Week Seven divisional road victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. However, Pittsburgh will be without the services of starting running back Rashard Mendenhall, as well as perennial All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu.
The Steelers are favored to win this matchup, considering that they are playing at home, and have an edge in talent on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin will have his team prepared to play. And there’s no doubt that the home crowd in Pittsburgh will wave their “Terrible Towels” in an effort to exhort the hometown Steelers to victory.
However, all is not lost for the Redskins. 2012 has proven to be a year of parity in the NFL, when any team can win on any given day. With that in mind, here are five things that must happen if the Washington Redskins are to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers:
Robert Griffin III must continue his solid play.
With Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III under center, the Redskins always have a chance to win games. He seems to have fully recovered from the concussion he suffered during the Week Six game against the Minnesota Vikings. He has a knack for making big plays, evidenced by his passing performance Week Seven against the Giants.
Pittsburgh employs a tough defense, featuring hard hitting linebacker James Harrison. The Redskins’ offensive line had better be cognizant of where Harrison is at all times, and make every effort to keep him away from Griffin III. If the Washington quarterback can avoid Harrison and his defensive teammates, Washington will have every chance to win the game.
Washington must limit their turnovers.
Uncharacteristically, Washington turned the ball over four times in their Week Seven game against the Giants. Two of those turnovers were committed deep in New York territory. Both times, Washington was driving for the opportunity to score a touchdown. If the drives were to stall, at the very least the Redskins would have a pair of manageable field goal attempts; however, because of the turnovers, Washington came away with nothing both times.
They must limit their turnovers against a Pittsburgh defense that is difficult to move the ball against on the ground and in the air. If the Redskins can move the ball, as well as maintain possession long enough to put points on the scoreboard, then Washington will have a chance to win.
Washington must be disciplined and limit their penalties.
Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan is a known disciplinarian. He doesn’t tolerate lapses in concentration. During the Giants’ game, an illegal procedure penalty by Fred Davis nullified an early Washington touchdown. The Redskins had to settle for a field goal on that drive. While that penalty seemed insignificant at the time, it turned out to be the difference in the game.
Another penalty was called on offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus, which nullified a first down deep in New York territory. That penalty proved to be huge, as running back Alfred Morris lost a fumble on the next play, ending the drive with no points for Washington.
As evidenced by the Giants’ loss, the Redskins cannot squander opportunities because of penalties. Collectively, the team isn’t talented enough to overcome such setbacks. This is not to say that they should play a perfect, penalty free game. That would be unrealistic. If Washington can stay disciplined against a well-coached Steelers’ team, then Washington will have a chance to win.
Washington Redskins’ tight end Chris Cooley must contribute to the offense.
With the season ending Achilles injury to starting Redskins’ tight end Fred Davis, newly resigned Washington tight end Chris Cooley must revert to his old form. As the most experienced healthy tight end on the roster, Cooley needs to provide Griffin III a reliable target in the intermediate passing game. He may also be asked to serve as a lead blocker for running back Alfred Morris.
Cooley was not brought in to be the savior of the passing game. Wide receivers Santana Moss, Josh Morgan, and Leonard Hankerson have proven capable of handling the pass reception responsibilities in place of injured wide receiver Pierre Garcon. However, Cooley will have to prove efficient in every capacity if the Redskins are to beat the Steelers.
Contain Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
While he’s not as spectacular as Griffin III, Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been every bit as valuable during his nine years in Pittsburgh. He moves around in the pocket to avoid opposing defenses, and to keep plays alive. Roethlisberger has speedy wide receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown to aid the passing attack. Wallace and Brown have the ability to go the distance every time they touch the ball.
The Washington Redskins’ defensive front must generate a potent pass rush against Roethlisberger. Defensive linemen Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, and Jarvis Jenkins have to get to Roethlisberger to take the pressure off the Redskins’ 32nd ranked pass defense. If the Steelers’ quarterback has time to throw in or out of the pocket, it’ll be a long day for the Washington Redskins.