After stopping the Bengals on the road last week, the 3-3 Steelers are at home Sunday to host Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins, a team coming off a heartbreaking last minute loss to the Giants.
Griffin has been sensational, as last week even in a the 27-23 road loss to Eli Manning and the Giants, he impressed with his 258 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 89 yards, connecting with Santana Moss for a go-ahead score with 1:32 remaining before Manning rallied New York to victory.
Now he plays a Dick LeBeau defense for the first time, one that even without playmaking safety Troy Polamalu will run different looks at the rookie QB with a hostile crowd in Heinz Field.
Griffin leads the NFL with a 70.4 completion percentage and 7.3 yards per carry for the league’s top rushing attack. His passer rating of 101.8 trails only reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.
“I think that’s what generates a lot of their offense,” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin about Washington’s running game. “I think their play-pass game is spectacular, I think that’s one of the reasons that RG3 is completing 70 percent of his passes.”
The Steelers were down 14-3 to the Bengals Sunday night, but recovered to hold Cincy to 3 points over the last two and a half quarters, enroute to a 24-17 win.
Pittsburgh’s D ranks second in the league in allowing 287.5 yards per game. Last week the Bengals put up just 185 yards on offense, matching the third-lowest total by any team this year.
The big question will be, will the Steelers D be able to handle the legs of RG3, and will they be able to put a few spies on him when he rolls out of the pocket. It will be up to LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison to keep Griffin in the pocket.
“I know it’s the Steelers’ defense and whenever you say that, it holds a lot of power, a lot of weight,” Griffin said. “Regardless of what other people have said, they’re still a very good defense. The numbers prove it, the players on the field prove it.”
Ben Roethlisberger is 14-1 all-time at home against NFC foes, and he has eight touchdowns to no interceptions and a 101.3 rating during a six-game win streak in such contests. He’s a big reason why Pittsburgh leads the league in third-down conversion rate at 53.8.
“Ben’s so good at making plays when everything shuts down,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “When you take a look at his third-down conversion rate, I think that proves everything about the guy that he’s going to find a way to make a play.”
Washington has been good, but the Steelers are starting to get it together after last weeks win over the Bengals. Look for their offense to carry them, and while RG3 will make plays, the Steelers will walk away with a 7-point win.
Pittsburgh 31 Washington 24