As is typical in the second game of the preseason, starters received more snaps—except for Robert Griffin III, although Mike Shanahan got the signal-caller's hopes up for a second. As is also sometimes typical, each team showed signs of rust.
The two squads combined for seven turnovers and 15 penalties, although there were still some exciting moments.
Ryan Kerrigan returned an early interception for a touchdown, Leonard Hankerson brought down a touchdown catch with one hand and Roy Helu broke a 30-yard touchdown run late in the game.
The Steelers got a touchdown catch from Derek Moye in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to make up for an uneven performance.
In the end, injuries to players who could be very important this season marred the game.
Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell, who is expected to compete with Isaac Redman for starting duties, made his Pittsburgh Steelers debut. After just four carries for nine yards, he was forced to leave with a foot injury.
why do i get the feeling we won't see him again in preseason? RT @EdBouchette Le'Veon Bell injured. Right foot. Done for the night.— Sigmund Bloom (@SigmundBloom) August 20, 2013
That's not an encouraging sign for the bruising runner who had already been dealing with a knee injury.
Just a few series later, Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins was tackled awkwardly by Lawrence Timmons. FOX Sports' Mike Garafolo gave this update:
X-rays negative but mid-foot sprain for Kirk Cousins. That's not great.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 20, 2013
RGIII is expected to be back for the start of the season, but with his propensity to scramble and the nature of his injury, QB2 in Washington will be an important position.
As such, the Redskins faithful will be praying they don't hear the word "Lisfranc" when it comes to Cousins in the coming days.
Still, Rex Grossman gave some hope that he can step in Cousins' place if need be, throwing for 133 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 10-of-16 passing.
Unfortunately, the injuries continued to pile up. According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, Hankerson left with an apparent right knee injury, Barry Cofield banged up his right hand and Aldrick Robinson hurt his left thigh.
Who will have a better 2013 season?
A win is always nice, but you hate to see important players go down at that rate—especially during the preseason.
Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins: A
It was a dominant performance from the 25-year-old Kerrigan.
Not only did he pick off Ben Roethlisberger and return it for a touchdown, but he also exploded through for a sack and a forced fumble.
ESPN's Dan Graziano put it rather simply:
Kerrigan also had three tackles and a pass deflection, looking primed to build off a Pro Bowl 2012 season in his third year.
Rex Grossman, Redskins: B
Grossman stepped in admirably for Cousins.
He missed on a few throws and tossed an interception, but he was mostly accurate and there were times when he was cutting up the Steelers defense.
Although it's not something many teams want to have to feel confident about, the Redskins have to feel confident about their No. 3 QB if he is ever forced under center during the regular season.
Landry Jones, Steelers: C-
Jones is an intriguing rookie, but he was inconsistent on Monday.
After connecting on some big throws, most notably to Markus Wheaton down the sideline for 45 yards, Jones connected with Derek Moye to cap off a very impressive 76-yard drive to bring the Steelers within four.
After that, however, he struggled to hit much of anything and finished with an inaccurate 9-of-22 passing line.
It's safe to say he didn't pass Bruce Gradkowski for Pittsburgh's backup role.
Shamarko Thomas, Steelers: A-
Fortunately for the Steelers, another rookie was far more impressive.
Sharmarko Thomas, Pittsburgh's fourth-round pick out of Syarcuse, was everywhere on Monday night, consistently flying to the ball with speed, aggression and physicality. He finished with a game-high six tackles.
Dale Lolley of the Observer-Reporter summed it pretty well:
Shamarko Thomas' helmet already looks like he's played a full season #Steelers— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) August 20, 2013
The man (Thomas, not Lolley) is not afraid to stick his nose in there, make a big hit and throw his body around. That should make Steelers fans very excited about his future.