Justin K. Aller
Steelers quarterback throws for 222 yards, and Jonathan Dwyer, evoking memories of Jerome Bettis in school bus colors, became the first Steeler since Willie Parker to get back-to-back 100 yard rushing games.
If Hurricane Sandy's driving rains that came through the region was supposed to affect both Pittsburgh and Washington in Week 8, no one told Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Washington, though, was all ears (and no hands).
Roethlisberger was 24-for-33 with 222 yards and three touchdowns against Washington, as the Steelers (4-3) left little doubt in a 27-12 win over the Redskins at Heinz Field.
Pittsburgh ran the ball pretty much at will, particularly in the first half, as running back Jonathan Dwyer evoked more memories of Jerome Bettis, rushing for 107 yards on 17 carries. The School Bus (homage to Bettis and the school bus-looking yellow and black striped jerseys the Steelers were wearing) became the first Steelers running back since Willie Parker in 2008 to rush for 100 or more yards in back-to-back games.
The Steelers racked up 140 total rushing yards on a defense allowing just 85 per game all year.
Roethlisberger hit tight ends Heath Miller and Leonard Pope and fullback Will Johnson with red zone touchdowns, and led the Steelers in a complete shredding of the defenseless Redskins.
Washington's offense didn't help things either, dropping nine passes officially - although most of them came on hotly contested defensive plays from multiple Steelers defenders.
Some were flat-out flubs, though, as the Redskins didn't appear prepared well in the game. They tried multiple gimmick plays with no success, but did manage three plays of 20 yards or more - a number not typically so high against the Steelers defense.
It could have been much worse, too. The Steelers' offense seemed to deflate after a punt return touchdown by Antonio Brown was called back for a block in the back by Curtis Brown. Antonio Brown was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after he ran backward about 25 yards into the end zone.
It was a great run and perhaps the dumbest decision he's made all year. Brown finished with four catches for 38 yards - the second time in three games he's been held to less than seven catches.
Incidentally, in seven games, Brown has either caught four or seven passes this season. He has one touchdown in 36 catches this year.
It's the Steelers' first back-to-back wins this season, and probably its best performance from its much-maligned offensive line. They allowed very little pressure, and just one sack and hit on Roethlisberger.
The Steelers' win shows an improving team on both sides of the ball, but the game wasn't without its warts. Griffin finished 16-for-34 for 177 yards and a touchdown, a stat line that would read a bit better without the drops. However, the main one, a touchdown dropped by Leonard Hankinson, came on the Redskins' lone touchdown drive.
The Redskins ran the ball well at times, bringing their trick play attempts into question. Two of them came in the first half, at times when the game was still competitive. On one, a quarterback-throwback to Griffin, the rookie passer took a big shot by safety Ryan Clark as cornerback Ike Taylor nearly took the ball away from Griffin.
As for Clark, he took a shot to the head in the third quarter, and left the game with a concussion. He didn't play in the second half, but the Steelers' defense, with Will Allen and Ryan Mundy (in for Clark and Troy Polamalu) held their own against the Redskins' deep passing effort late in the game.
The Redskins' frustration boiled over in cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who melted down in front of an official, leading to two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and his ejection from the game.
He had come off a particularly physical battle with Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders when the game was out of reach, and neither player looked to have done anything illegal. He took his helmet off to confront an official, and when the official threw a flag for that, Hall said something amateur lip-readers could easily determine that would be something worthy of ejection from church.
The Steelers head to New York for another NFC East game against the Giants in Week 9. They now sit one game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North. Baltimore is inactive this week.