So the Pittsburgh Steelers played the Washington Redskins (am I still allowed to call them that?) for their second preseason game on Monday Night Football. I know, I know, you probably read "second preseason game" and quickly clicked on over to something else. Maybe a recap of a game that actually mattered? Okay, it matters to the rookies and coaches, blah blah blah, but to fans, well ... I suppose it gives us something to watch and an excuse to attend a game while it's still warm outside. Though watching Pam Oliver get slammed in the head with a football during the Indianapolis/Giants game on Sunday night was actually one of the most shocking things I've seen all preseason (just glad she's okay -- that could have been really bad!).
I'll keep it short. For your sake and mine.
So, right, preseason, ugh. You know it's never a good sign when the official Pittsburgh Steelers Facebook page has updates like, "Yay, we got a first down!" I may have paraphrased a bit, but you get the gist.
There is some really bad news on the running game front thanks to a crazy amount of injuries. Something happened to rookie halfback Le'Veon Bell's right foot, and he was gone after the first series. The Steelers were really excited to see what he could do, so his injury is pretty unfortunate. LaRod Stephens-Howling and Isaac Redman didn't even dress. Then fullback Will Johnson got a rib injury and halfback Baron Batch was lost due to a stinger. The highlight was Jonathan Dwyer, who was the only healthy back left at the end of this debacle, who ran 14 times for 68 yards. He did cause a fumble, but come on, people, he's the last man standing.
But the offensive line was sloppy. That's an understatement. Ben Roethlisberger was under constant pressure. There were way too many penalties (the Steelers committed eight, while the Redskins committed seven). They couldn't get to the end zone until the first play of the freakin' fourth quarter. They were 1 of 13 on third-down conversions.
Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was all over the Steelers offense. He intercepted a screen pass from Roethlisberger and went 22 yards for a touchdown, giving the Redskins a 7-0 lead. He then stripped Bruce Gradkowski, Big Ben's backup, for another turnover. Ben played until early in the second quarter. He went 5 of 6 for 66 yards, that 1 interception, and no TDs. Oof.
With QB Rex Grossman in after Kirk Cousins sprained his right foot in the second quarter (Robert Griffin III suited up but didn't play), Leonard Hankerson made a beautiful one-handed catch, which sailed right over William Gay, for a 10-yard completion, giving them a lead of 14-3.
Wait, you're saying there was coverage blown by William Gay? Look, playing in the seondary is hella difficult, and I feel kind of bad continually giving Gay a hard time because OMG THE PRESSURE, but the Steelers pass coverage is going to be quite a concern this season. Why we signed that guy to a three-year deal ...
Anyway, there were definitely some highlights in the latter half of this sloppy game. Cornerback Devin Smith made a gorgeous diving interception on the sideline. Shamarko Thomas delivered a hard hit, which knocked the ball loose, and the Steelers recovered. Safety Damon Cromartie-Smith also had an interception (yes, there were a lot of turnovers during this game). QB Landry Jones connected with Derek Moye for the Steelers lone touchdown. Shaun Suisham was also perfect on his two field goal attempts.
But overall, yikes. Looks like the Steelers have PLENTY to work on before they play the Tennessee Titans on September 8. Like everyone always says, thank goodness it's just preseason, but still, let's hope these glaring problems won't plague the Steelers for the rest of the season. After watching a game like this, though, it's hard to keep the faith. I'm not feeling too confident about this year. Like most Steelers fans, it's rather customary to maintain a healthy dose of pessimism. Looks like they're going to put us through the ringer yet again in 2013.
On to next week, folks, and let's hope it's a better showing than what we just saw tonight. The Steelers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs on August 24 at 7:30 p.m. See yinz there!
PS: Does anyone else think it'd be a lot of fun to mic up the veterans while they're watching the rookies from the sideline? I was thoroughly amused by Ben Roethlisberger's and Robert Griffin III's reactions to the game while they were being interviewed. Seriously, I think that was the highlight of this matchup for me. That is all.