Robert Griffin III and Ben Roethlisberger both have the ability to extend plays. One does it with speed and instincts, the other with size, strength and subtle movements. Both men need to lead their teams to victories to improve their chances of competing in tough divisions.
RG3 and the Washington Redskins lost a heartbreaker on the road to the New York Giants in Week 7. Despite their rookie quarterback's heroics, the team was let down by a defensive lapse and a fumble by veteran wide receiver Santana Moss.
The loss dropped them to 3-4 on the season, and a full two games behind the Giants in the NFC East.
Here are the highlights:
Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers had better luck. The Steelers continued their seesaw season by knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals 24-17. The Steelers are 3-3, but they are still a game-and-a-half behind the Baltimore Ravens in the division.
The defense made big plays against the Bengals, and this Lamarr Woodley interception was one of them:
These two teams haven’t met in a regular season game since 2008. The Steelers won that matchup 23-6 when Byron Leftwich came on to lead the team to victory in place of the injured Roethlisberger.
Ben’s healthy for this one, but so is RG3, and this should be an exciting battle between two dynamic quarterbacks.
The Redskins cannot afford to drop to 3-5. They need this win most of all.
Here's the details on this interconference matchup, and some deeper analysis:
When: October 28, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh
Live Stream: DirecTV Sunday Ticket (Pay Service)
Radio: WDVE 102.5 FM in Pittsburgh, and ESPN 980 AM in Washington, D.C.
Spread: Steelers (-4), per OddsShark.com
No official injuries have been reported. However, we do know that Redskins tight end Fred Davis suffered a season-ending Achilles injury against the Giants. Per Mike Jones of the Washington Post, Davis had surgery on Tuesday.
Chris Cooley is returning to the team after an eight-week absence, per Jones in a separate article. The franchise leader in receptions at the tight end position has the ability to be an important safety net for RG3.
London Fletcher also missed part of the second half against the Giants, per Jones. No word has been released on whether Fletcher will be available for the game against the Steelers.
Chuck Carroll of 4th and Pain and CBS Sports indicates an update on Fletcher's status should be coming soon:
Should receive update on London Fletcher's hamstring today. #Redskins— Chuck Carroll (@TheChuckCarroll) October 24, 2012
Beyond the loss on the field for the Redskins, Fletcher's absence would also end the 11th-longest consecutive games streak in NFL history. Fletcher has played in 231 straight games, which accounts for every regular season contest in his entire career.
Stay tuned to find out if he'll suit up for this one.
Don't count on Emmanuel Sanders appearing on the Steelers' injury report. Cris Colinsworth and Al Michaels may have exposed the Steelers' receiver for faking an injury in the team's win over the Bengals on Sunday night. The NBC commentators pulled no punches in their assertions about Sanders "injury."
It appeared he may have been trying to buy Roelthlisberger some time to collect himself after a sack.
Sanders went to the ground like a wounded land mammal. We don't know if he was really cramping, but it's wrong to speculate, or to imply that he's faking.
Have a look for yourself:
The Steelers have been banged up all season on both sides of the ball. The injury news for the Redskins' game is good and bad.
Sports Illustrated is reporting that the team will likely get center Maurkice Pouncey, and running backs Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall back, but not All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu.
That has to be music to RG3's ears, as that definitely takes a potential playmaker off the Steelers' defense.
Fantasy Stud, Dud and Sleeper
The biggest problem for the Washington Redskins this season has been the play of their secondary. They are a major reason why the team is ranked 32nd in the NFL against the pass.
There is no help in sight and you can bet Roethlisberger and the Steelers are licking their chops for this game. Ben has been critical of the offense. He mentions in the video below that the scheme doesn't provide opportunities for big plays:
That said, expect Todd Haley to draw up a few deep shots down the field to take advantage of the Redskins' biggest weakness. The beneficiary will be Mike Wallace.
He hasn't been spectacular this year. Part of that is because the playcalling hasn't been working to his strength. However, he did drop three passes against the Bengals.
Expect Wallace to have his best game of the season on a leaky Redskins' pass defense.
Don't look for big things from any of the Steelers' running backs. The Redskins are pretty solid against the run (seventh in the NFL)—assuming Fletcher plays—and the ground game is not where the Steelers have the major advantage.
Even if they do run the ball often, with so many backs seemingly available after injuries, the carries figure to be distributed in a way that doesn't allow one back to shine.
The Steelers running backs are duds this week.
As a sleeper, fantasy owners should watch out for Cooley in this game. He's a very capable receiver and RG3's ability to scramble often leads to intermediate passes to the tight end.
Cooley could have a nice game in his return to the team.
Notable Quotes, Trash Talk and Team Speak
RG3 is the Man
The Redskins' loss to the Giants was predominantly bitter, but RG3's play did add some sweetness. He showed so much ability and mental toughness, it was impressive to just about everyone who saw the game.
The Redskins blog from Redskins.com captures these sentiments:
Having a big, come-from-behind win against the defending Super Bowl champs on the road within your grasps and seeing it just slip away is probably one of the toughest scenarios for an NFL player.
That’s what happened today to the Washington Redskins, who made a final push to pull ahead of the New York Giants before seeing two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Eli Manning take the game right back with a long touchdown pass to Victor Cruz.
Mike Greenberg of ESPN said:
If starting a team, would you take RGIII as first overall pick? If you wouldn't at least consider it, you haven't been watching. #Redskins— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) October 22, 2012
With RG3 at the helm, this team seems destined to have better days, but it would have been great for them to have captured that important division game on the road.
It's Been A While
I mentioned the Steelers won the last matchup between the two teams, but Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tells us it's been a long time since the Redskins beat the Steelers, period:
This probably isn't going to be a part of Mike Shanahan's pregame speech. but it's something for fans to think about. The Redskins shouldn't need any additional motivation to win this game, but every little bit helps.
Keys To Victory
Steelers' Most Important Player(s): The Steelers Offensive Line
The Steelers offensive line will be key in this game. We know Wallace and Andre Brown should be able to get their way against the Redskins' secondary, but the line must provide Roethlisberger time to throw the ball.
Bouchette talks about the Steelers' line beginning to gel. They'll need to be in good form to allow Wallace and Brown time to get deep.
This is where the Redskins can be had.
Redskins' Most Important Player: Ryan Kerrigan
The Redskins need Kerrigan to be a disruptive force off the edge. They don't have great or disciplined pass coverage. The only way this team can improve against the pass is to get more pressure. Their 13 sacks this season only ranks 20th in the NFL.
Kerrigan leads the team, but he has only 3.5 on the season. They need better production from him against the Steelers.
The Steelers will continue their dominance over the Redskins, but RG3 will keep it close. Haney will open the offense up a bit to appease Roethlisberger, and this is the perfect week to pacify the franchise quarterback.
Final Score: Steelers 34, Redskins 27
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