- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2008

Steelers (5-2) at Redskins (6-2)

Today: 8:30 p.m.

Where: FedEx Field

TV: Ch. 20, ESPN

Radio: ESPN 980

REDSKINS

STARTERS

Offense

WR89Santana Moss

WR82Antwaan Randle El

LT60Chris Samuels

LG66Pete Kendall

C61Casey Rabach

RG77Randy Thomas

RT76Jon Jansen

TE47Chris Cooley

RB26Clinton Portis

FB45Mike Sellers

QB17Jason Campbell

Defense

DE99Andre Carter

DT96Cornelius Griffin

DT64Kedric Golston

DE92Demetric Evans

OLB52Rocky McIntosh

MLB59London Fletcher

OLB53Marcus Washington

CB27Fred Smoot

CB22Carlos Rogers

FS30LaRon Landry

SS48Chris Horton

Specialists

K6Shaun Suisham

P1Ryan Plackemeier

PR82Antwaan Randle El

KR31Rock Cartwright

KR83James Thrash

Injuries

Out: DE Jason Taylor (calf), RB Ladell Betts (knee), WR Malcolm Kelly (knee), CB Shawn Springs (calf).

Questionable: DT Cornelius Griffin (shoulder), S LaRon Landry (hamstring), WR Santana Moss (hamstring), CB Carlos Rogers (calf), LT Chris Samuels (knee).

Probable: DT Lorenzo Alexander (foot), KR Rock Cartwright (knee), S Chris Horton (ankle), LG Pete Kendall (knee), RB Clinton Portis (ankle), CB Fred Smoot (groin), LB Marcus Washington (hip).

STEELERS

STARTERS

Offense

WR10Santonio Holmes

WR86Hines Ward

LT78Max Starks

LG68Chris Kemoeatu

C62Justin Hartwig

RG72Darnell Stapleton

RT74Willie Colon

TE83Heath Miller

FB38Carey Davis

RB39Willie Parker

QB7Ben Roethlisberger

Defense

DE91Aaron Smith

NT98Casey Hampton

DE95Brett Keisel

LOLB56LaMarr Woodley

LILB51James Farrior

RILB50Larry Foote

ROLB92James Harrison

CB24Ike Taylor

CB26DeShea Townsend

FS27Anthony Smith

SS43Troy Polamalu

Specialists

K3Jeff Reed

P17Mitch Berger

PR21Mewelde Moore

KR21Mewelde Moore

KR44Najeh Davenport

Injuries

Out: S Ryan Clark (shoulder), CB Bryant McFadden (forearm), OT Marvel Smith (back), LB Keyaron Fox (hamstring).

Probable: DT Casey Hampton (toe), RB Willie Parker (knee), P Mitch Berger (hamstring), G Chris Kemoeatu (ankle), QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder), LB LaMarr Woodley (calf).

KEY MATCHUP

REDSKINS RB CLINTON PORTIS vs. STEELERS LINEBACKERS

Portis is the NFL’s MVP for the first half with league highs of 187 rushes for 944 yards, and he has seven touchdowns in eight games. But tonight is his toughest challenge. The Steelers are third in rush defense and have allowed 100-plus yards in just one game.

Inside linebacker James Farrior leads the Steelers with 50 tackles. Fellow linebackers James Harrison (40) and LaMarr Woodley (32) are also in the top five.

Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense, as dialed up by coordinator Dick LeBeau, presents a unique challenge because of the amount of movement before the snap.

“They don’t stand there in a pure 3-4 front,” Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. “They move that front around and overload linebackers and get them at the line of scrimmage.”

It will be up to the Redskins’ offensive line to seal the gaps the linebackers often shoot through and to tight end Chris Cooley and fullback Mike Sellers to block linebackers coming off the edge.

“It’s going to look bad for a while,” Zorn said of an anticipated defensive battle. “Just because that’s the way it is - both teams are very physical.”

THREE KEYS

1. SACKS, PERIOD

The Redskins have only four sacks in the past five games. Somehow, they have done enough to win four of those contests, including at Dallas and at Philadelphia. It’s time to start putting the passer on the ground, not just pressuring him. Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 23 times this season.

2. PROTECT CAMPBELL

Jason Campbell has been sacked an average of two times a game; the Steelers are averaging more than double that number and will throw an array of blitzes at Campbell. The offensive line and tight ends must communicate and not leave unblocked rushers to give Campbell ample time.

3. ONE SHORT FIELD

Yards will be at a premium. The Redskins’ offense has started only 11 drives this season in the opponent’s territory, scoring eight times. If the defense can set the offense up with one short field with a takeaway, it could make a big difference.

THE EDGE

WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL

Talk about strength vs. strength. The Redskins’ running game is third (155.3 yards a game) and Clinton Portis leads the league in attempts and yards. Pittsburgh’s defense is third against the run (71.4), so this is going to be a fistfight up front. Against the passing game, the Steelers rank first, but there could be an opening: Pittsburgh hasn’t intercepted a pass since Week 3, a span of 152 attempts that is the longest current streak in the NFL. Jason Campbell is the only starting quarterback who has not thrown a pick this season. It starts with Portis, who needs a big game to combat the Steelers’ blitzes. But Pittsburgh is too stout.

Edge: Steelers

WHEN THE STEELERS HAVE THE BALL

Pittsburgh is susceptible to sacks and interceptions. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger keeps things alive with his fearlessness and willingness to hold on to the football. But he has been sacked 23 times and thrown seven interceptions. The Redskins haven’t done a great job producing either this season - only 10 sacks and eight turnovers. The Steelers get running back Willie Parker back from a knee injury, but the Redskins have been good against the run, led by linebacker London Fletcher. A key matchup is to see who will cover Hines Ward (31 catches). The guess is Carlos Rogers.

Edge: Redskins

SPECIAL TEAMS

Don’t expect much from the Steelers’ return game; they’re last in kickoffs and 30th in punts. The Redskins’ Rock Cartwright has been consistent (25.5 yards a return) on kickoffs, and Santana Moss’ 80-yard touchdown last week gave the punt-return game a boost. Pittsburgh veteran Mitch Berger is averaging a solid 39.1 net yards an attempt. He will make it tough for Moss and Antwaan Randle El to find open space. The kickers are even. The Redskins get the slight edge because of Moss’ potential, even though a hamstring injury might limit him to playing receiver.

Edge: Redskins

Ryan O’Halloran

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide