- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Almost as an afterthought last week, Jim Zorn predicted the Washington Redskins‘ game against Pittsburgh would feature more brawn than beauty.

“It’s going to look bad for a while,” he said.

The Redskins’ coach was absolutely correct. It got ugly … for his team.

Unable to capitalize on two early breaks, keep quarterback Jason Campbell upright, collect a sure interception or stop the Steelers on third down, the Redskins crawled into their bye week with a 23-6 loss before a crowd that included an estimated 30,000 Terrible Towel-waving Steelers fans.

After the Redskins kicked two field goals in the opening five minutes despite prime field position, the Steelers flummoxed their offense and took advantage of a blocked punt and interception.

“The thing I know, when you play a team like this, when you have the little opportunity, you have to take advantage of them,” Zorn said. “We didn’t, and we paid for it.”

Said running back Clinton Portis: “We wanted to play smash-mouth football. But we got smashed.”

D.C. native Byron Leftwich replaced an injured Ben Roethlisberger at halftime and completed seven of 10 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.

Wearing all burgundy uniforms for the first time in a while, the Redskins couldn’t build on their best start since 2000 and couldn’t keep pace in the NFC East with the streaking New York Giants. The Redskins (6-3) could be two games out of the NFC East lead when they play host Dallas on Nov. 16.

The Redskins’ first two drives ended in field goals; their last 10 ended with six punts, a blocked punt, the end of the first half, an interception and a turnover on downs at the Pittsburgh 1-yard line.

“They were relentless,” Campbell said of the Steelers. “They wouldn’t bend at all, even when we got down to the goal line. It was a good test to play them, and now we’ve seen a lot of the things we need to improve on.”

The Redskins’ 221 yards were their fewest since Week 1 and well below their average of 364.3 a game. Pittsburgh sacked Campbell (23-for-43 for 206 yards) seven times, and he threw his first two interceptions of the season. Portis’ streak of 120-yard games ended at five with only 51 yards on 13 carries.

Roethlisberger suffered an injured right shoulder late in the first half, making way for Leftwich. And at that point, the Steelers took control of the game.

On the fourth play of the second half, Leftwich threw 50 yards to Nate Washington, who had gotten behind Fred Smoot. Three plays later, a fastball from Leftwich to Mewelde Moore converted a third-and-7 from the Washington 8. Willie Parker’s touchdown extended Pittsburgh’s lead to 16-6 (Jeff Reed missed the extra point).

The Redskins moved into Pittsburgh territory on the ensuing drive. But Portis couldn’t corral Campbell’s pass, and Deshea Townsend intercepted it at the Pittsburgh 21. It was Campbell’s first interception in 250 attempts this year and snapped a franchise-record streak of 271 dating to last year. It was the first by the Redskins in 380 attempts and 12 consecutive games.

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