Kicks And Picks Rally Steelers To Road Win
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Sunday, August 19, 2007
By Eddie Griffin
Steelers Fever Columnist
Preseason breeds some unlikely heroes. Two stepped up to give the Steelers their second win of the preseason tonight, a 12-10 win over the Redskins at FedEx Field. Backup kicker Connor Hughes kicked three fourth-quarter field goals, including the winner with less than two minutes left, and rookie cornerback William Gay thwarted a Redskins comeback attempt with an interception in the waning moments.
A week after getting rallied on by the Packers, it was the Steelers doing the rallying. Down 10-3 in the third, the Steelers chipped away in the fourth, getting 28 and 22-yard field goals from Hughes. And, after Gary Russell came up short on third and one, Mike Tomlin went to the former Virginia kicker again, who put it through for the lead with his third kick, a 19-yarder with 1:31 left.
The defense appeared to have the Redskins stopped on fourth and 14 from the 38, but Mark Brunell completed a 36-yard pass to Ryan Hoag to get the Redskins in field goal territory with time running down. But, after two penalties pushed the ‘Skins back to the 41, the Steelers’ defense sewed the game up, as Gay picked off Brunell to seal the deal.
Ben Roethlisberger played the entire first half and was pretty sharp, going 8 of 12 for 87 yards. He led the Steelers to their first points on his final drive, a 21-yard field goal by Jeff Reed as time expired.
Willie Parker made his return, but wasn’t very effective, gaining only four yards on four carries.
The Redskins took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 7-yard pass from Todd Collins to Brandon Lloyd with 1:33 left in the quarter. Washington extended their lead to 10-3 in the third quarter when Shaun Suisham connected on a 48-yard field goal with six minutes left in the quarter.
But, that lead wouldn’t last, as Hughes’ kicks and Gay’s pick produced a road win for the Steelers.
The defense had an excellent night after the first quarter. The Redskins were limited to 226 yards on the night, including only 43 on the ground. The D also finally made its presence known in the backfield, getting three sacks on Saturday night after totaling only one in the first two games.
Nate Washington finally showed some hands, catching all three passes that were thrown to him, for a total of 44 yards.
The kicking game was once again a strong point. Not only did the Steelers nail all four of their field goal attempts, but Daniel Sepulveda had another great night, averaging 50 yards on four kicks. He didn’t get any inside the 20 tonight, but all four went inside the 30.
Pittsburgh also won the possession battle, and made the most of their opportunities. After the Steelers and Packers had 13 possessions each last week, Pittsburgh and Washington combined for only 17 this week. But, the Steelers scored on four of their possessions, and held a 30:39 to 29:21 edge in time of possession.
William Gay is getting closer and closer to getting a roster spot. After six tackles and a sack against the Packers, the rookie from Louisville had the game-saving interception this week. Nothing’s assured yet, but he’s looking like one certainly worth keeping for more than just a roster spot or scout team player.
Even though they won, the Steelers still had trouble making the most of their opportunities. Three times, they got the ball inside the 5, but couldn’t punch it into the end zone.
Cedric Wilson didn’t make a catch for the second straight game. He was thrown to several times, but the throws never found their intended target. That hurts him in his battle with Santonio Holmes, who made two catches for 51 yards against the Redskins to lead the team for the night.
After two strong games, the rushing game was stifled a little by the Redskins. They still reached the century mark, but averaged only just over three yards per carry. And, the running back rotation went cold every time the Steelers got inside the 10, as Verron Haynes, Kevan Barlow, Gary Russell, and Larry Croom had trouble going forward on the Steelers’ three forays inside the 10.
The Steelers play their next to last game of the preseason next Sunday night, taking on the in-state ‘rival’ Eagles at Heinz Field. It’ll be the last chance to see the Steelers until Week 2 against Buffalo, so hey, get out to the stadium. And, even though it’s the preseason, it’s the Eagles, so there’s reason enough right there.
The Steelers will look to improve to 3-1, and will do so on national TV, as the game will be broadcast nationally for NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecast.
The Eagles are 1-1 on the preseason after a 27-10 home win over Carolina on Friday night.
And, given how strong the Steelers’ defense was on Saturday night, the Eagles getting to 2-1 won’t be a piece of cake.