Offensive line overpowers Redskins
On a cool, rainy afternoon, the Steelers manufactured a near-perfect blend of offensive balance in winning back-to-back games for the first time this season with a 27-12 conquest of the Washington Redskins at Heinz Field.
Jonathan Dwyer, who became the first Steelers back to record consecutive 100-yard rushing games since Willie Parker in 2008, high-stepped over and around Washington's leg-weary defense. Receiver Mike Wallace rediscovered his hands with a game-high seven receptions.
While Dwyer and Wallace dazzled amid the spotlight, the offensive line did the grunt work to power an efficient offense that scored on five of its first six possessions.
The offensive front, anchored by All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, outmuscled the Redskins in the trenches as Dwyer carved out 107 rushing yards. The Steelers kept things simple by feeding Dwyer the ball between tackles Max Starks and Mike Adams.
“They (offensive line) made my job easier,” Dwyer said. “I was just going off on how they were playing, and they were playing physical. So, I brought my physicality to the game as well.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger barely got his jersey dirty as the offensive line kept him upright for the second game in a row. Only once did the Redskins put a glove on him.
“Everyone wants to jump on (the offensive line) when they're not playing good, but no one talks about them when they're playing great,” said Roethlisberger, who completed 24 of 33 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns. “I'll keep giving them praise no matter what.
“They did such a good job of opening holes in the run game and protecting the pass game. Washington is a very confusing defense, so we prepared all week for certain looks, and we never got some of them.”
Starks said preparation was the key to victory. It helped, too, that for the first time this season the offensive line faced a defensive front similar to the Steelers, which helped determine that a man-zone blocking scheme would work best against Washington.
“The man zone stuff worked by keeping it in between the tight ends and not trying to cut outside every single time,” Starks said. “The way Dwyer runs and the way the line blocks is probably the best thing for this offense right now.”
For guard Ramon Foster, it was simply a matter of muscle.
“We won the one-on-one battles,” Foster said. “We're getting guys back, so we're playing well together as a unit. But it won't mean a thing if we can't do it next week (against the New York Giants).
“If we can keep the run game going and protect Ben, this is going to be the outcome every Sunday. We still left some points out there, but it's the best effort by the offensive line this season.”
Guard Willie Colon said the offensive line is attacking more than it did during the Steelers' 2-3 start. And that's giving Dwyer room to use his size and speed.
“(Dwyer) is just hitting it and he understands where he needs to be,” Colon said. “He's reading the blocks. It was good to see him use the stiff arm. It reminded me of the Bus (Jerome Bettis) a little bit.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7923.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Washington’s Shelton grows into big role, looks forward to draft
- A host of top NFL Draft picks figure to be versatile defensive linemen
- High risk, reward with 1st-round quarterbacks in NFL Draft
- Safety Collins seeks to buck Alabama DB trend
- Steelers wrap up pre-draft visits with four defensive players
- Baylor’s Petty trying to buck stereotype
- NFL Draft preview: Safety crop offers no sure-fire stars
- NFL Draft preview: QB crop thin after top 2
- Steelers legend Blount to announce team’s second-round draft pick
- Steelers receiver Brown skipping voluntary offseason workouts
- Peat adds to Stanford offensive line legacy