Coming into the game you really didn't know what to expect with this game. We didn't really know what this team was really about. They came out and beat a decent Bengals and Eagles teams and then lost to bad teams like Tennessee and Oakland so the Steelers were really up in the air as to what sort of team they were. Washington wasn't a great team but they still had an outstanding running game and a rookie quarterback that had played some outstanding football and it was going to be a big test.
The Steelers passed that test. With flying colors. The Steelers came out and took control of the football game and outside of one drive in the first quarter the defense came out and had an outstanding performance again. Ben Roethlisberger was great, the receivers were great and the Washington receivers were pretty bad as they dropped a ton of passes.
I was actually able to go out in Chicago to watch this game with a few friends and we ended up going to Dark Horse in Wrigleyville. If you are ever in Chicago during a Steelers game you need to go there. They have about 20 TV's and 19 of them were turned on the Steelers game and everyone in there had on Steelers gear except for one person. It was awesome. Oh yea, they serve Iron City. While it is not the best beer, at all, it is still a little taste of Pittsburgh for those of us who are no longer fortunate enough to live in the city.
I wasn't asked to write any of that. Promise. I just like to point out good places I watch games when I can because I know I appreciate that when I am in cities and am looking for places to watch the game.
Why did I say that? Oh yea, well I was at the bar watching the game so I was bsing with people and watching the game and drinking so I really didn't pay as much attention to the detail stuff as I usually do when I watch the game so I don't rally have much to go off of. Here are just a few quick points I came away with after watching the game then combing through the stats:
-Roethlisberger was outstanding. He threw only nine incompletions in 33 attempts and tossed three touchdown passes. While his yards per attempt was pretty low (for his standards) at 6.7 yards but he is making some great decisions and not turning the football over. He wasn't sacked and he distributed the ball to nine different receivers and found to tight ends and a fullback on his touchdown passes. Seems like I talk about this ever week but man, he is having an MVP type season. Also, best pump fake in the game? Probably.
-Jonathan Dwyer was again the rock for the Steelers. He ran for over 100 yards for the second straight game and was a part of a Steelers rushing attack that gained 140 yards as a team. Dwyer is a nice mix of power and elusiveness and while he can get to the outside he has been pounding the rock in between the tackles and is doing a great job of getting yards after first contact. I still don't think that Dwyer is the best back on the team because I think Rashard Mendenhall gives you more but Dwyer is better than Isaac Redman and if there is one thing we have learned this year is that you can't have enough running backs. With the way the position has evolved the running back position isn't something that you have one guy and he sticks with you for ten years. Those days are over.
-The Steelers offense just continues to control the ball. Much has been made about how the Steelers aren't hitting on the big plays but what they are doing is taking huge chunks of yards and time in drives. On Sunday the Steelers had three separate drives of ten plays or more than resulted in three touchdowns. The first one went for 12 plays and spanned 76 yards over seven minutes for a first drive touchdown. They then scored a second quarter touchdown with a ten play, 74 yard drive and then scored on their first possession after the half with an 11 play, 80 yard drive that took just under seven minutes. The Steelers held the ball for over 33 minutes. I love the big plays but I love making the smart plays and not turning the ball over even more which was something that the Steelers offense hasn't been able to shake in the recent past.
-Coming in Washington led the league in rushing and was averaging over 177 yards per game on the ground. The Steelers limited Washington to only 86 yards on 21 carries and held the leagues second leading rusher, Alfred Morris, to only 59 yards. RGIII ran for only eight yards on six carries. The Steelers have given up some big plays this year, more than normal, but they only gave up two runs of ten yards or more and while they gave up a few bigger plays in the passing game Washington never really had much going.
-RGIII has been dynamic this season and has given team fits but Dick LeBeau's game plan was great. Obviously I don't really know what his game plan was but from what I could piece together from post game quotes and some other things I have read is that LeBeau just tried to keep things simple and didn't try to do too much. Sometimes it's better to keep thing simple and what they were able to do was just make the small adjustments to widen out the linebackers and keep RGIII in the pocket and take away the edges. Once the Steelers did that they were able to run some more traditional stuff to confuse the rookie.
-Casey Hampton was pretty outstanding yesterday. He was dominating along the line of scrimmage and while he only made one tackle he was blowing up plays in the running game and making Morris bounce out a little wider than he wanted to and gave the backers and defensive backs some time to get there and he isn't going to get talked about but he was a beast.
-The offensive line was very good. Ben wasn't sacked a single time and he was only hit one time. Last season he was getting sacked like four times a game and now he is barely getting touched. Now, a lot of this has to do with other factors such as Ben getting rid of the ball quicker but the line has been injured and banged up a good bit so far this season and they still gutted it up and are keeping Ben clean and now clearing holes for the running game. Some of that has to go with the new blocking scheme that Max Starks talked about after the game where they have a hybrid zone/man blocking scheme. No matter what it is though they are getting the job done and this offense looks really good.
-Not everything was good in the game but there just really isn't a whole ton of stuff to complain about and I am not going to complain just for the sake of complaining. The specials teams once against got banged for a penalty that negated a touchdown return by Antonio Brown. The Steelers also didn't finish the job when they had the chance later in the game but they were ahead 20-6 at halftime and only gave up 12 points in the entire game. How can you complain about that?