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Quarter by quarter
What happened: The Steelers surprised everyone by going with an onside kick to start the game, though they went offsides and the Redskins recovered it - while also picking up a quick momentum boost and the early lead on a field goal by Shaun Suisham. The Redskins then snared a rare interception, securing excellent field position for a second consecutive drive, and went deep to Moss on the next play, though it fell incomplete in the end zone. Eventually, the Redskins had to kick another field goal. The Steelers came out running on the next drive, but the Redskins sacked Roethlisberger to end the threat. The teams traded punts to close the quarter.
Analysis: Pittsburgh came out trying to make a statement with the trick play, and it backfired; had Washington been able to sustain the drive, it could have taken the Steelers out of the game early. The Redskins also came out aggressive on offense but couldn’t complete key passes on third down. Dropped passes proved to be a bigger problem for the Steelers, though.
What happened: The Steelers sacked Campbell on the first play, forcing a punt. And here starts the trend: The teams traded punts for all but two of the eight possessions as both had difficulty moving the football. Two long pass plays to Hines Ward got the Steelers in position for a field goal that cut the lead to 6-3. The sixth punt, by Washington’s Ryan Plackemeier, was a game-changer, though, as the Steelers blocked it. Five plays later, Roethlisberger went up the middle for the game’s first touchdown, putting Pittsburgh up 10-6.
Analysis: The Steelers finally started connecting on passes in the second quarter, especially to Ward, who came within a yard - and an impressive Carlos Rogers tackle - of scoring the first touchdown. Rogers, meanwhile, allowed that reception as well as an earlier one that set up the first Steelers field goal and - perhaps even more crucial - dropped another interception right in his chest that he easily could have returned for a touchdown. Washington failed to convert even once on third down in the first half.
What happened: Roethlisberger stayed in the locker room, meaning D.C. native Byron Leftwich, formerly of the Jaguars and Falcons, took the field to lead the Steelers’ offense. His first drive ended in the end zone, with Willie Parker scoring before Reed missed the extra point. After two more punts, the Redskins finally started to put a drive together — only to see it end, along with Jason Campbell’s streak of pass attempts without an interception. His 250th attempt of the season was tipped by Clinton Portis and picked off by Pittsburgh’s Deshea Townsend.
Analysis: Despite the switch at quarterback, the Steelers kept the momentum they built before halftime and came out slinging — including a 50-yard pass to Nate Washington on the first drive. And if that didn’t take the Redskins out of the game, Campbell’s first interception since last season surely did, sucking the wind out of the team on what had been its most promising drive of the game.
What happened:0 Leftwich again came out throwing, connecting on a long pass to Mewelde Moore and two short passes to Ward and Santonio Holmes - the final pass going for another touchdown. The Redskins then had their best drive of the game, marching down the field in 12 plays and nearly scoring on a scramble by Campbell - it was originally ruled a touchdown before it was reversed. That left the Redskins going for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1, and Campbell threw an incompletion on a play-action pass. Washington quickly got the ball back, but the drive ended with Campbell on his back again on fourth down. The game — and another long Redskins drive — ended with Campbell’s second interception of the night and the season.
Analysis: The Redskins finally got the ball moving, though it likely would have been too little, too late - even if Campbell had managed to get the ball in the end zone after the long drive. With the Steelers continuing to blitz from different angles with different players, the Redskins’ line couldn’t keep up - and Campbell spent most of the final period on the run and taking hits. One development: Devin Thomas, one of the rookie receivers, caught two passes in the fourth quarter and three on the night.
About the Author
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