Pittsburgh Steelers' offense excels without key players

By The Sports Xchange
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) laughs in the final moments as the Steelers play the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on September 12, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) laughs in the final moments as the Steelers play the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on September 12, 2016. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

The Pittsburgh Steelers' offense just might be as advertised. Even without four starters who were missing due to injuries and a suspension the Steelers still hung 38 points on the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins.

Starting running backs Le'Veon Bell and Roosevelt Nix, tight end Ladarius Green and receiver Markus Wheaton all missed the game. But their replacements stepped in to pick up the slack as the Steelers gained 447 total yards en route to the 22-point victory.


DeAngelo Williams, the oldest tailback in the NFL at 33, rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Eli Rogers caught six passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. Second-year receiver Sammie Coates had two receptions for 56 yards and second-year tight end Jesse James had five catches for 31 yards.


"We hold ourselves to high expectations," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "I think people thought, 'What are you going to do without Martavis [Bryant]? What are you going to do without Le'Veon [Bell], without Heath Miller?' My message was, 'Well, we've got Sammie Coates, Eli, and all the tight ends, DeAngelo Williams.' We've got guys that can make plays and they showed up tonight."

RELATED Washington Redskins re-sign DT Cullen Jenkins

But the biggest reasons the Steelers still might reach their goal of scoring 30 points per game are Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, who were in midseason form Monday night.

"I know we were missing some pieces," coach Mike Tomlin said. "But we had 7 and when we have 7 we can put together performances like we did tonight."

After being shut out in the first quarter, Brown and Roethlisberger got the offense rolling when, on a fourth-and-1, they connected for a 29-yard touchdown for a lead the Steelers would never relinquish.

RELATED Tampa Bay Buccaneers add familiar RB Jacquizz Rodgers

"It's always pretty good to dial his number," Tomlin said. "He is Antonio Brown, and he lived up to it tonight."

--The Steelers did not sack Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and that angered defensive end Cam Heyward. The lack of pressure allowed Cousins to throw for 329 yards.


"I thought we stopped the run early, but our pass rush has to be better, especially since we're entering AFC North play," Heyward said.

RELATED Maria Sharapova appeal verdict delayed

The Steelers are banged up along the defensive line, which likely contributed to the lack of pressure. Heyward played a little more than two weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain. Rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave played with a strained quad muscle.

"If I'm going to be out there I have to play a lot better, simple as that," Heyward said. "The pass rush sucked today. I have to get to the quarterback."

--The no-huddle offense was successful on several fronts. It allowed Ben Roethlisberger to repeatedly get the matchups he wanted in the passing game, most notably Antonio Brown on Redskins cornerback Brashaud Breeland. But it also got the Redskins front seven tired.

A few Steelers offensive linemen said they noticed the Redskins defenders wearing down in the second half.

"We knew we could kind of finish the job," left guard Ramon Foster said. "They had been playing well the entire game, but we pulled it together at the end. You can't let up on the run game real quick. We were sagging in the first half a little bit. Ben was on with the passing, too. You just have to let the game develop and that's what we did."


NOTES: Linebacker Ryan Shazier left the game in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury and did not return, but he said afterward that he was removed for precautionary reasons. He expects to be able to play Sunday against the Bengals at Heinz Field. Coach Mike Tomlin did not have an update on Shazier at his weekly news conference Tuesday. ... Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the first player in NFL history with 500 completions to three receivers. Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are at 502 after Monday night. He also threw 540 completions to Heath Miller and 512 to Hines Ward. Roethlisberger also passed Joe Montana for the 13th-most touchdown passes in league history (275) and passed Dan Fouts for the 12th-most passing yards in league history (43,040). ... Wide receiver Antonio Brown had 126 receiving yards for his 26th career 100-yard receiving game. Only Hines Ward (29) has more in franchise history. Brown also reached 10,000 combined yards in a team-record 87 games. Franco Harris, previously the quickest to reach 10,000 combined yards, needed 111 games to reach the milestone. ... Running back DeAngelo Williams rushed for 143 yards for his fifth 100-yard rushing game as a member of the Steelers and the 23rd of his career. Williams became the fifth active player with at least 7,500 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards and 60-plus touchdowns.


Latest Headlines