(The Sports Xchange) - Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t have some of his usual weapons when the Steelers defeated the Washington Redskins 38-16 Monday night.
The Steelers gained 435 yards anyway thanks in no small part to Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown, but with a healthy assist from some young pass catchers and a veteran running back.
Pittsburgh is missing star running back Le’Veon Bell (three-game suspension) and wide receiver Martavis Bryant (one-year suspension).
“That was my message to the guys last night in the offensive meeting,” Roethlisberger said. “We hold ourselves to a high expectation. I think people thought, ‘What are you going to do without Martavis, what are you going to do without Le’Veon, without (retired tight end) Heath Miller?’
“My message was, ‘Well, we’ve got Sammie Coates and Eli (Rogers) and all the tight ends and DeAngelo Williams.’ We’ve got guys that can make plays and they showed it tonight.”
Williams rushed for 143 yards on 26 carries, while second-year receiver Rogers had six catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Second-year tight end Jesse James caught five passes for 31 yards, and second-year receiver Coates added two receptions for 56 yards.
The Redskins opted not to have cornerback Josh Norman shadow Brown, who finished with eight receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came while he was covered by cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
“Our faith is trusting (defensive coordinator) Joe Barry, (defensive backs coach) Perry Fewell,” Norman said. “That’s why the guys brought me here. Faith in me to do my job and not question one thing in the game plan.”
Pittsburgh’s second touchdown came on pinball-type play when a pass intended for Coates on a slant deflected in the end zone to Rogers for a 3-yard score.
It turns out that two wrongs made a right.
“That’s one where two young guys need to learn exactly what to do on that play,” Roethlisberger said. “Eli’s got to bring two guys with him, and Sammie’s got to come flatter. Sometimes the ball bounces your way.”
The opener did nothing to alleviate questions about Washington’s running game. Though the Redskins were forced to abandon it late, when they did try, their backs managed just 47 yards on 11 carries, including 24 on seven carries by starter Matt Jones.
“We’ve got to get our running game going to take some pressure off the quarterback,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “You know we get a little bit too giddy sometimes with the (passing) weapons that we have. We’ve got to stay balanced, and I think that’s my fault tonight.”
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who threw two interceptions, hadn’t thrown one at FedEx Field since Week 1 of last season.
“Needed to throw the ball somewhere else or underneath,” Cousins said of the picks. “They were doing a good job of just dropping out, forcing us to take things underneath. You just have to stay patient.”
Editing by Simon Jennings