The Redskins lost in stinging fashion to a dominant Steelers team sporting throwback jerseys that made them look like oversized bumblebees who had their laundry swapped with the local penitentiary. In their worst outing this season, the Redskins fell 27-12 and appeared to regress on both sides of the ball. The defense collapsed in an embarrassing performance that culminated in DHall’s ejection, while the offense failed to find a rhythm or even any reception. This week, for the first time this year, the negatives outweigh the positives and no one is blameless.
Slippery When Wet?
That is no excuse. Conditions were tough in Pittsburgh – cold and wet – but that didn’t stop the Steelers receivers from pulling in 24/33 passes to our 16/35. The Redskins receivers dropped 10 balls Sunday, having only dropped 11 in the seven weeks prior. Hankerson, Briscoe and Robinson all dropped passes in the end zone, depriving us of a combined 21 points. Moss scored our only TD of the game, but failed to make additional plays when we needed them. Even Chris Cooley, in his first game back after re-signing last week, dropped a pass on a route across the middle on which he has historically been incredibly reliable. Josh Morgan and Logan Paulsen proved the best targets, with Paulsen having a career long 31-yard pass in the first half. Paulsen did, however, draw two costly penalties. Niles Paul actually caught something this week, snagging a career-long 37-yarder to start the second half. By the end of the first quarter, the drops had us all asking if Griffin could both throw and catch the ball. Unfortunately, we learned about Griffin the wide receiver later in the first half (see Shan-anigans below).
Our defense was porous Sunday, allowing Pittsburgh to gain 355 yards on the day with an average of almost six yards per attempt. Through their first six games, the Steelers averaged fewer than 90 rushing yards per game. Against the Redskins, they racked up 140 yards on the ground. Our defense also permitted the Steelers to score on four consecutive drives in the first half. Big Ben had all day to make plays, with little to no pressure coming from our D. We knew the Steelers receivers would be hard for our struggling secondary to cover, but we also strongly cautioned about the need to cover TE Heath Miller. When I say we, I mean me, the media, the mailman, and just about every other person I talked to about the game. So how did our defense not get that memo? Miller didn’t have a record day, but he did catch four passes for 46 yards and a TD. He also once again proved that our defense cannot cover TEs. Ever. To add insult to injury, DHall got into a very profane encounter with the refs in Q4 and was ejected from the game. His trash talking has officially gone too far. Not only has he let the team down, he may also now be facing a suspension. With our defense continuing to spiral downwards, we don’t need any distractions.
Is it Danny Smith? Are other teams just that good? Whatever it is, our special teams are clearly nothing special. While Kai Forbath has still yet to miss a FG in the NFL, he did miss an extra point with a very low blocked kick on our first TD of the game. Sav Rocca, who in all fairness has been injured, made a 12 yard punt in Q2 giving the Steelers the ball inside the Redskins 50. Furthermore, our return team continues to give us terrible field position. Brandon Banks had his longest return of the season, taking the ball out 27 yards, but otherwise continues to disappoint. We also let the Steelers down the ball inside our own 5 yard line in Q2. We just can’t seem to get anything going on the return game and consistently leave our offense to dig themselves out.
I spoke too soon. Last week I praised the Shanahans, even giving Kyle a lot of credit for his creative game plans. This week, however, I was left scratching my head. Our offense was 3-12 on 3rd down conversions Sunday and I blame the play calling. One Q3 backfield pitch to Josh Morgan on 3rd and 12 pretty much sums it up the typical bad call. But the real question mark this week came on a 3rd and short play in which Josh Morgan took the ball in the backfield and flung it out to Griffin along the sideline. Griffin missed the ball, drew an offensive pass interference call and got slammed by Steelers safeties. As a desperate maneuver in a playoff elimination game, maybe. In a regular season game with your prize QB, no way.
As the announcers tried to make sense of our faltering defense by reviewing the injuries suffered to-date, a graphic appeared on the screen listing the injured Redskins. While injuries are certainly a part of our problem, one player on their list is not, in fact, out – Ryan Kerrigan has started every game this season and is, thankfully, fully healthy. DE Adam Carriker, however, is out for the season with a tendon tear. Kerrigan, Carriker, toma(y)to, tomato.
The Redskins will need a big outing against Carolina at home before heading into the bye if they want to give us any hope for salvaging the season. I’m in no way giving up on our offense yet, everyone has an off day. Our defense, however, will need to show signs of a major turnaround next week to prove they haven’t completely fallen apart.