Even though it was another win tempered by the news of injuries to stars, this time Ben Roethlisberger and Heath Miller, the suffocating performance by the defense took control of a game that the Steelers could have let out of their hands with risks and mistakes early in the game.
Granting the Redskins their first two drives on the Steelers side of the field, the first from an unsuccessful surprise onside kick, the other from a tipped Roethlisberger interception, the defense rose up from backed against the wall, much like it did against New York the week before and stopped the bleeding before the game was out of hand. It turns out that was all the offense Washington could muster, and the Steelers eventually broke through with points of turnovers and long drives of their own.
Much will be made of the eye-opening performance by Byron Leftwich in relief of Roethlisberger in the second half, and it was certainly the best he's looked by far in a Steelers uniform. He was doing a lot of what Ben has failed to do much of the season: drop back and get rid of the ball. And he was on target and poised. That said, I'm not exactly ready to anoint him the next starter and the team suffers greatly if Ben is absent an extended period of time. Should it be only one game, I like Leftwich's familiarity with the Colts' defense going into next week.
I was glad to see Mewelde Moore returning kicks last night, though the outcome didn't look to be much better than when Najeh was doing it in weeks past. With a score in the second half, Santonio somewhat redeemed an otherwise sloppy performance in his first game back. I wasn't aware of the Heath Miller injury until after the game, and I'm trying to find out when he tweaked the ankle. Even though Arians, as is the wont with most Steelers' offensive coordinators, isn't able to utilize Miller as much as he should, having him out of the lineup looks like it hurts as much as Ben at this point.
Willie Parker looked to be all the back from his recent setbacks. He had good burst to the outside against a solid Redskins run D.
But this was a night when LaMarr and Silverback and the rest of the defensive unit deserve all the credit. After barely breathing on Eli Manning last week, they overwhelmed Jason Campbell with pressure all night, dropping him for sacks seven times, while blanketing the less-than-productive Antwaan Randle El, holding him and Santana Moss to a combined five catches for 36 yards.
From my perspective in the crowd, the attendance split looked to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-50. I know Steelers fans "travel" well (they're really just everywhere), but what an absolutely pathetic showing by Washington fans. This was a prime time televised game against a marquee opponent when your team's record coming in was 6-2. I really never again want to hear what great fans the Redskins have from people in this area.