During the preseason I predicted the Steelers offense would average 30 points a game. On Monday night they got 38. Could you imagine what they would have done had they not been shut out in the first quarter?In my preseason predictions I said Ben Roethlisberger would lead the league in total passing yards and passing yards per game, #7 went 27-37 for 300 yards, 3 TD and 1 interception. I also said D’Angelo Williams would more than adequately fill in for Le’Veon Bell during his 3-game suspension. Williams finished with 143 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns and caught 6 passes for 28 yards. My boldest prediction was that Antonio Brown would break the elusive 2,000-yard receiving mark this season. Against the Washington Redskins he caught 8 passes for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s on pace for 2,016.
In the last 16 games Brown has played with Roethlisberger, he’s caught 151 passes for 2,048 yards. Both would be NFL
records. Don’t believe my predictions? You can read about them here.
This offensive unit netted 435 total yards, and they were 11 for 16 on 3rd and 4th down (2/2 on 4th). In addition to opening up massive running lanes for Williams, the offensive line only allowed Roethlisberger to be sacked once. So much for needing the preseason, as the complete offensive unit only played two drives together in the four games. The only thing we didn’t see was them go for 2 points after touchdowns, which has become the staple of this team over the past couple of seasons.When you have that kind of offense it’s easy to see why head coach Mike Tomlin went for it on 4th and one inside the Redskins 30 in the second quarter, instead of kicking the field goal down 6-0. That decision completely swung the momentum of the game, and kudos to Todd Haley for the play call. He put the ball in his two best players and it paid off. When asked after the game why he went for it instead of a field goal down, Tomlin said “we play to win.”
The defense once again looks suspect, especially in the passing game, even though they picked off Kirk Cousins twice. Keith Butler’s unit allowed 384 total yards (329 pass, 55 rushing), but the only number that matters is 16, the total number of points they gave up (1 touchdown, 3 field goals). They also won the important 3rd down efficiency battle. Washington was 3 for 12 on 3rd and 4th down (0/2 on 4th down) and they also held them to 1 for 4 in the red zone and 1 for 2 on goal to go.
However, the bend but don’t break worries me and I don’t think it will be as successful against better elite QBs and offenses. Cousin’s wasn’t sacked once. That will need to be fixed if they hope to win the AFC North and get home field advantage in the playoffs.
Next up for the Steelers, the 1-0 Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Kickoff is at 1 pm. How this isn’t the Sunday night game I have no idea.
Other notes: Roethlisberger passed Hall of Famer Joe Montana and Vinny Testaverde for 12 on the All-time list for most touchdown passes. He now has 275. Also, on Antonio Brown’s 5th catch of the game he reached the 500 catch mark, making Roethlisberger the first in NFL history to throw 500+ completions to three teammates. Hines Ward and Heath Miller are the other two.