Best Run Defense Is A Run Offense

The Steelers found the perfect way to defend the Redskins, says Mike Prisuta: Beat them at their own game. That and much more from Mike after the Steelers' 27-12 win Sunday afternoon.

In the days leading up to RGIII's invasion of Heinz Field, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau referred to Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan as a "genius" and predicted Washington would add something to an already exotic offensive mix the Steelers hadn't seen on recent video.

What that turned out to be on Sunday afternoon was less read-option hocus pokus and a more traditional football approach, especially in the first half.

Was that because the Redskins felt as if they didn't need to trick the Steelers to run the ball effectively?

Turns out they didn't.

But what was more of a factor in the Steelers' 27-12, rain-soaked victory was the way the Steelers were able to run the football.

They out-dueled the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense in terms of rushing attempts (27-21), rushing yards (140-86) and average yards per carry (5.2-4.1).

Washington did some damage in the first half in attempting 12 rushes for 51 yards and a 4.3 average, totals that included a sneak and a kneel-down by RGIII to close out the second quarter. And while RGIII was willing to play-action the peanut vendors in the passing game, a significant portion of the Redskins' ground game was of the here-we-come-try-and-stop-us variety.

What ultimately stopped the Redskins from running was the way their deficit on the scoreboard kept growing.

The Steelers will take that as a method of holding a team that was averaging 177.7 yards a game on the ground coming in 91.7 yards below that average.

A lot of teams are going to get away from the ground game if the Steelers can keep getting to 27 points with 5:13 left in the third quarter.

* Details also figured to be critical in this one and the Steelers were on their details as necessary.

The Redskins dabbled in gadgetry with an attempted reverse-pass/throwback to RGIII that resulted in an offensive pass interference penalty against RGIII, and with a flea-flicker that degenerated into a mere 6-yard completion to tight end Logan Paulsen.

Although the Redskins made some plays they never consistently gashed the Steelers, even when they went to that three-eligibles-in-the-backfield-with-RGIII look more consistently in the second half.

The defense was on its details there, too, but it wasn't easy to be as often as the Steelers needed to be according to linebacker Larry Foote.

"Even before the snaps there were times where I was sitting there, ‘OK, what do I have?'" Foote said. "That's not good; you want to be able to play fast. I'm quite sure guys were thinking the same thing I was thinking, ‘OK, what do I have?'

"But the coaches did a good job (preparing the players). We repped it a billion times, we were going home studying film and we came out with the ‘W.'"

* Turns out Mike Tomlin wasn't kidding when he vowed retribution for all of that special-teams nonsense in Cincinnati. Often-penalized cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke paid the price, losing not just his seat on the bus and his hat on Sunday but also, in this instance, his stripes.

Van Dyke's loss was Damon Cromartie-Smith's gain. Promoted to the active roster on Saturday, Cromartie-Smith saw action with the kickoff return, kickoff, punt return and punt teams against the Redskins.

Cromartie-Smith has been hanging around for a while now, just on the edge of establishing himself as at least a capable special-teams player. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds he has the size to be that, and the mean streak and thumping ability to be more than that.

Stay tuned.

* The arrow, conversely, is pointing down for Jason Worilds, who didn't get on the field until the kickoff following the third-quarter touchdown that had given the Steelers a 27-9 lead.

Worilds used to be a regular on special teams when he wasn't filling in for an injured starter at outside linebacker. And he's all but fallen off the face of the Earth in terms of linebacker action since James Harrison came back.

A message is apparently being sent.

Wonder if it's being received?

* The Steelers are now 1-0 all-time when Leonard Pope and Will Johnson catch a touchdown pass in the same game.

Pope and Johnson.

You can't stop 'em.

The New York Football Giants only hope to contain them.


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