Pittsburgh Steelers: Winners and Losers from Week 8 Win over Washington
Heinz Field has been good to the Steelers over the years and Sunday afternoon was no different. With the multi-dimensional rookie phenom RGIII coming in to play an aged Steelers defense, many experts projected a big day for the Skins.
But the Steelers pounced early and often on their way to a 27-12 victory, the team's fourth of the season. Let's take a look at the winners and losers from the week 8 win over the Redskins.
Coming off an impressive 100-yard performance against the Bengals, questions arose about who the Steelers would go with at the running back position for the rest of the season. But when it was announced that both Rahsard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman would miss Sunday's contest, Dwyer again became the featured back.
And he didn't disappoint.
Dwyer recorded his second straight straight 100-yard game, rolling over the Skins for 107 yards on just 17 carries. He added a catch for eight yards to his total.
Dwyer's last two performances may be the best two-game series a Steelers running back has had since the days of Willie Parker. His games have had a big impact on the Steelers, as both have led to pretty important wins.
There's no doubt that Dwyer should remain the starter going forward, but with this coaching staff, you never really know. He's far outperformed Mendenhall and any other Pittsburgh back in 2012. No reason he shouldn't continue to be the go-to guy.
Heath Miller's monster season continued against the Redskins, catching four passes for 46 yards and yet another touchdown. The score was his sixth of the season.
Miller's score came at a time when Pittsburgh held just a four-point lead. As quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was flushed from the pocket, he found his top red-zone target wide open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown that would ultimately seal the victory for the Steelers.
Miller has always been a quiet threat on the Steelers offense, but this seems to be the year he's breaking out. He's almost a guaranteed four receptions each week and has done a great job supplying Roethlisberger with a great check-down option. His blocking skills also can't be denied.
Many used to call Miller a poor man's version of Jason Witten. I'm not sure those people are singing the same tune in 2012.
The "Old and Slow" Defense
It was the way the Steelers have played all season that prompted many to think that Robert Griffin would have a big-time game against a defense that Warren Sapp declared to be "old, slow and done."
But on Sunday, Sapp ate his words.
Griffin struggled to find any room to move the ball and the leagues leader in completion percentage hit on just under half of his 34 pass attempts. RGIII was also held to a measly eight rushing yards on six carries.
Personally, I thought the Steelers would struggle to contain the rookie phenom, but the gameplan by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was spot on.
Griffin is probably the most versatile quarterback the Steelers will face this season. This win was a statement to the league that they might be old and slow, but far from done.
The Offensive Line
For the second straight week, this Steelers offensive line has come together in a big way. And although they got center Maurkice Pouncey back, they're still not at full strength.
In the passing game, the unit gave up only one sack on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and protected very well. Rookie tackle Mike Adams had another solid performance at right tackle and may have solidified a starting job at the position.
They've also done a great job opening up holes for Dwyer in the run game. Once the worst rushing attack in the league, the Steelers have had two straight 100-yard performances and show no signs of slowing down.
The Steelers haven't had even a mediocre offensive line in a long time and they've still been to two Super Bowls. Imagine how far this team can go with an offensive line that can actually play.
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As good as the Steelers defense played against the Redskins, they did suffer one major loss. Safety Ryan Clark left the game early with an apparent head injury and did not return to the game.
Clark has been the unquestioned leader of a defense that is in dire need of one.
It's unknown how long Clark will be off the field, but with Polamalu already out for an extended period of time, the Steelers can afford to have him off the field for much longer.
The Second-Half Offense
There's no question that this was a big performance by the Steelers, but looking into the game, you can't be that impressed with what the offense did in the second half.
Pittsburgh totaled only 156 total yards in the third and fourth quarter of the game on Sunday and managed only seven points.
An argument can be made the the Steelers were simply trying to run out the clock, but the offense didn't just seem crisp in the second half against the Redskins.
The Steelers did a good overall job against Washington, but in close games, you're going to want to see a better performance down the stretch from the Steelers offense.
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