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2012 - Week 8 @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Blognosticator - Anne the Fan

When I first found out that I got the assignment to write about the Redskins-Steelers game, I was pretty excited. “Yeah, the Steelers, I know something about them, right.” But then I started realizing that despite their ubiquitous presence on the NFL Network, I knew surprisingly little about them. In all honesty, here was my initial analysis: “Well, they have Ben Roesthlisberger, that big guy who had a motorcycle accident. And they have Troy Polamalu, that guy from the Head and Shoulders ads who used to room with Carson Palmer at USC. I guess he hits pretty hard but I’m too busy checking out his hair during the games to really notice. And I think they have that wideout who held out for part of the preseason. Mike something? Is he back yet?” Impressive, no? (Impressive? No.) What I know might qualify me to score 10 points in the College Quiz Bowl, but it probably won’t command a whole lot of respect from my fellow BGO members. So consider yourselves warned.

When the Redskins have the ball. The Redskins come into this game ranked 1st and 20th in rushing and passing yards per game, respectively, and 5th in total offense. Be honest: Did anyone really think that Griffin would be such a monumental talent this early in his career? He’s currently ranked 3rd among all active quarterbacks, just behind Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. He’s physically gifted, he’s super smart and HE’S OURS. The offensive line appears to be playing better than anyone not named Shanahan thought it would. And I’m not sure that anyone thought that Alfred Morris would be as successful as he’s been. Come on, the number 3 rusher in the league? But with the devastating injury to Fred Davis and Pierre Garcon’s lingering foot problems, the Redskins have lost their two most important downfield threats. It seems inevitable that Santana Moss will begin facing double coverage, so now would be a good time for Leonard Hankerson and any one of our tight ends to step up.

The Steelers enter the game ranked 9th and 2nd in rushing and passing yards allowed per game, respectively, and 2nd in yards allowed overall. And this is without having a completely healthy Polamalu. Clearly, their defense didn’t have much trouble shutting down A.J. Green, holding him to just 1 catch for 8 yards; remember, this is a receiver who burned the Redskins with 9 catches for 183 yards. Still, I think that the Redskins’ running game is strong enough, and Griffin is gifted enough, to keep us in the game on the offensive side of the line.

When the Steelers have the ball. Here’s where it gets ugly. On offense, the Steelers are ranked 26th and 6th in rushing and passing yards per game, respectively, and 11th in total offense. Roethlisberger is currently ranked 5th among active quarterbacks and shows no signs of slowing down in his ninth year. They also have a talented receiving tandem in Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, currently ranked 12th and 26th among all wide receivers in the league. (Compare this with the Redskins’ receivers, who don’t crack the list until Hankerson at number 45.) Tight end Heath Miller is 5th among all tight ends and leads the team in touchdowns scored; more importantly, he’s tall, very tall, 6 feet 5 inches worth of tall. Historically, the Redskins’ defense has not matched up well against this type of player; just think about how we’ve fared against guys like Jason Witten, Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. They easily exploit the Redskins up the middle and often seem to be the favorite end zone target. Now it’s true that the Steelers are down to Jonathan Dwyer, their number 3 rusher, but that didn’t seem to matter in Sunday’s game. Dwyer did an admirable job as the next guy up, rushing for 122 yards.

The Redskins’ defense, sad to say, is ranked 7th and 32nd in rushing and passing yards allowed per game, respectively, and 29th in yards allowed overall. Yes, you read that correctly: We are DEAD LAST in passing yards allowed. Now to be fair to the coaching staff, the loss of Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo has dramatically changed the front seven’s ability to generate much of a pass rush. This, in turn, has prevented us from creating stops and turnovers and puts a heavy burden on our secondary. And for reasons that defy logic, we continue to be cursed at the safety position, thereby reinforcing our problems at the line. Now I’m certainly not laying this mess solely at our safeties’ feet, especially since I don’t know enough about coverage schemes to know where the breakdowns are occurring. All I know is that if I’m Todd Haley, I’m just going to keep running a version of “Get Open Mike/Heath/Antonio” over, and over, and over again. Then I’m going to stand back and laugh.

In closing, I admit that I would really like to see us win this game and shut some of their more annoying fans up. “Hey how’s yinz and Franco’s Italian Army and one for the thumb and the Terrible Towel and Blitzburgh and the Steel Curtain” and blah blah blah cakes. Let’s be honest: How hard is it to root for the Steelers? They’ve been so good for so long that it’s like rooting for the Yankees. Or Duke. And some of their fans seem to have this attitude that because they come from a hardscrabble town, being a Steelers fan is hard, man, it’s really hard. No, actually, it’s not. Hard is rooting for a team that has finished at the bottom of its division 4 out of the last 6 seasons. Hard is suffering through 7 coaches in 13 years. Hard is watching your team run the swinging gate on Monday Night Football. What, you want a merit badge? Shut the hell up and get off my lawn.

Prediction: Sadly, I predict that in typical Redskins fashion, we will lose yet another close game. Griffin will continue to work his magic and keep us in the game until the very end; the defense will generate at least one turnover; and the newest player to emerge from our clown car full of kickers, Kai Forbath, will remain perfect. But once again the secondary will give up a big play in the final minutes, at which point I will collapse in a sobbing heap and swear for the 500th time that I’m never watching football again. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Steelers: 31, Redskins 27.
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