O-line Dominates In Win Over Steelers

FedEx Field, 08.26.05--This is the game that provides hope. This is the game that at least gives Redskins fans a chance to feel positive about the season.

Redskins 17, Steelers 10

Patrick Ramsey played better; the running game was excellent and the defense shut down Pittsburgh. And give credit to the special teams, which again consistently forced Pittsburgh into bad field position.

The Steelers managed only 238 yards of total offense and only 130 in the first half -- 51 coming on one carry alone. Meanwhile, Washington outdid the Steelers in everything: it gained 367 yards -- 166 on the ground and 201 through the air. The Redskins held the ball for 38:07.

Offensive star: The offensive line. They blocked well all night, giving the running game a good night. Washington rushed for 166 yards, averaging 4.0 yards a carry. They also protected the quarterbacks all night -- no sacks in 28 pass attempts. That's terrific.

And don't forget: Running back Clinton Portis gained 48 yards on eight carries and provided a spark for the offense. He showed excellent burst, hit the hole hard and fast. If the line can stay healthy, Portis will have a big year. He's more patient, an important trait on the counters.

And then there's: Quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Give the kid a game ball for showing resiliency, a trait we've always liked about him. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. And he bounced back not only from an interception in this game, but from an up-and-down outing last week.

The interception he threw was not completely his fault. It appeared the receiver, James Thrash, did not adjust his route and ran a deeper one than he should have given the blitzing linebacker coming from that side. Forced to hurry the throw, Ramsey threw a pass seemingly for a short out rather than the seven-yard hitch run by Thrash. Safety Troy Polamalu intercepted and returned it 34 yards for a first-quarter touchdown.

Ramsey still had his share of misfires and still is off-target when it comes to hitting receiver Santana Moss deep. But at least Ramsey quieted critics and relieved the pressure. For a week.

Defensive star: Corner Carlos Rogers continues to impress. Here's what I loved: he came up hard to tackle Jerome Bettis early in the game. The kid isn't afraid to hit and makes a good pairing with equally-physical Shawn Springs. Walt Harris might have more experience than Rogers, but I'd start the kid.

Best drive: Washington had a 10-play, 55-yard drive in the second quarter in which Ramsey went 5-for-5, completing the series with a four-yard touchdown pass to H-back Chris Cooley. The pass was nearly intercepted -- the DB got a hand in the way -- but Cooley basically outrebounded him for the score.

Welcome back: Linebacker LaVar Arrington played for the first time this summer. Think he brings energy? When he came onto the field, he and Marcus Washington jumped and bumped chests. As the crowd roared his return, he waved his arms for more. Arrington split duties between left end, right end and linebacker. He blitzed the middle once and forced a hurried throw. He almost intercepted a pass later -- it went through his hands. But it was just good to see him back on the field. If healthy, he'll take this from being a good defense to being one that can change games.

Tough call: What do you do at punter? Andy Groom had his second straight good game and has shown an excellent leg all summer. Not sure how great he is at directional punting -- all but one of his punts went right down the middle. But he also gets excellent hangtime. But do you trust a young punter over a proven veteran? Then again, maybe you'd have the punting job filled for several years if you keep Groom over maybe one more year with Tom Tupa. There's concern about Tupa's back so this could give Groom an edge.

The Rock: Running back Rock Cartwright had a 10-yard touchdown run. Though he and Nehemiah Broughton appear locked in a battle, reality probably suggests otherwise. The coaches love Broughton because he moves piles; Cartwright is considered a core special teamer. So don't be surprised at all if both make the roster. There's room for both.

Ouch: Safety Matt Bowen suffered bruised ribs, but the injury was better than it appeared. He should be OK.

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