The Pittsburgh Steelers faced the Washington Redskins in their first regular season game of the 2016 NFL season. While all eyes were on the Josh Norman versus Antonio Brown matchup, the team had a successful running game, and a solid defensive performance, which ultimately won them the game.
The Steelers beat the Redskins 38-16, completing the first of what hopes to be many 30+ point football games. Let's take a look at three game changing plays that really turned the tide and brought momentum to Pittsburgh.
The Steelers decided to go for it on 4th and 1 at the 30-yard line opting out of what could have been an easy field goal by kicker Chris Boswell. The Redskins were not expecting a play-action deep pass to Antonio Brown.
What really makes this play stand out is the loaded box by Washington's defense. You can definitely tell that a blitz is coming right up the middle to try and prevent what they believe will be a run by running back DeAngelo Williams.
This was not only a gutsy play call, it was executed brilliantly. The offensive line protected Roethlisberger just enough so he could throw a perfect strike to Brown, who was actually being covered by Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland instead of Norman. Perfect play design, but a ballsy call by offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and/or Roethlisberger for making the change at the line of scrimmage.
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is an absolute beast on defense. His insane speed and great play making ability is what makes this former first-round draft pick stand out.
In the above play, Pittsburgh was up by only 11 points and the Redskins were driving into Steeler territory. What better way to turn the momentum around then by getting an interception. That is exactly what Shazier did and it was an absolute beauty.
Shazier read the eyes of Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins and just went up for the football. It was a great read by the third-year linebacker, who surprisingly only has two interceptions in his career so far. It should be noted Cousins doesn't read the underneath coverage, hence not seeing Shazier, which makes the interception one of the easier ones Shazier could tally in hopefully a breakout 2016 season.
At the end of the play the Steelers were flagged for a block in the back. Shazier's return was extremely impressive but the play was negated. He has what it takes to continue to be a truly dominant force on the defense, just as long as he stays healthy.
Points off turnovers can go a long way when it comes to winning football games. Ryan Shazier intercepted the football which set up Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown, part 2, and this high powered offense to finish what he started.
On third-down and three, offensive coordinator Todd Haley decided to test cornerback Bashaud Breeland one last time. Wide receiver Antonio Brown made a solid catch and earned his second touchdown of the night.
It was the Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger show. Let's hope these two continue to dominant and showcase their incredible skills when the Steelers face the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday at Heinz Field in Week 2.
The Steelers got the job done and will head into Week 2 with a 1-0 record. The Steelers need to have a better defensive performance and earn some sacks against the Bengals this Sunday if they want a chance to win. These three game changing plays were crucial in Pittsburgh's win over the Washington Redskins. Let's hope that Roethlisberger and Brown once again steal the show this weekend.