Pittsburgh’s 24-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Baltimore Ravens, 43-13 thrashing at the hands of the Houston Texans put the Steelers back in the playoff hunt. Now they must face RGIII and the Redskins at Heinz Field this weekend.
|AGGRESSIVE PLAY—Steelers back-up strong safety Will Allen brings down Bengals 6’5”, 260 lb. tight end Jermaine Gresham at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Sunday, Oct. 21. (Courier Photo/ Thomas Sabol)
The Steelers played one of their best all around games of the season, and their best ground game, to hand the Bengals their third straight loss while evening their record at 3-3 to move into second place, one game behind the 5-2 Ravens, in the AFC North.
Robert Griffin III is the best rookie in the NFL right now, as he has put together outstanding numbers both as a passer, 133 for 189 for 1661 yards and runner, 468 yards on 64 carries for a 7.3 average. His 70.4 completion percentage and 7.3 rushing average is the best in the NFL, and he has a 101.8 QB rating putting him in the top 5. But because of the youth of the Redskins (3-4), they have struggled to win games. Such was the case last weekend when he put on a dazzling performance but came up short in his dual with Eli Manning and the New York Giants, 27-23.
The biggest reason for the Redskins problems this season is they have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Every game the offense has to try to outscore the other team, and generally whichever team is on the field last wins the game.
The Steelers offense with its’ new found running game should have no problem scoring points on this defense because there’s no way they can hold Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, and the rest in check. Especially after the running game got a much needed boost from Jonathan Dwyer, 122 yards on 17 carries in the Bengals game.
One big problem with the offense is Wallace’s hands of stone. He has dropped several passes in the past few weeks, and really looked bad in the Bengals game. That has to be corrected.
On defense, the Steelers looked good, but RGIII will give them more trouble than Andy Dalton. Even though Dalton is an excellent passer, RGIII passes and runs equally as well.
Alfred Morris is the Redskins top runner, compiling impressive numbers, 658 yards on 138 carries for an impressive 4.8 yards per carry. The top receiving threats are Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss and Josh Morgan, all decent but none great. If they have any chance of beating the Steelers they must depend on RGIII, or the Steelers beating themselves with turnovers.
The Ravens must play the rest of the season without Ray Lewis, who’s out with an injury. However, the rest of the team will get a week off to heal with a bye week then they face the Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders before traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in Heinz Field. A loss by the Ravens and a win by the Steelers puts’ them into a tie for first. The Bengals loss dropped them to 3-4, but they aren’t out of the race by any stretch of the imagination.
Even though the Steelers should be able to outscore the Redskins, the New York Giants, 5-2, are another story. It will be a battle of two of the big three quarterbacks drafted in the 2004 draft, Eli Manning and Roethlisberger. Both have two Super Bowl rings, and both seem to play just good enough to win. But in this game somebody has to lose.
Then comes the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, 1-5, who have played just about everybody tough but have managed to lose. The Steelers can ill afford to stumble against them, looking ahead to the big Ravens game.
Regardless of the competition the Steelers must win out of their next three games, hoping the Ravens stumble against one of the two weak teams they face before the big Nov. 18 clash.