Redskins beat Steelers 24-13 but injuries loom large
The Washington Redskins went to 2-0 in the preseason by defending their home turf at FedEx Field and defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-13. The Redskins defense chipped in with a score and the offense got touchdowns from WR Leonard Hankerson and RB Roy Helu to provide the victory.
However, the story of the night for the Redskins was injuries, as QB Kirk Cousins, NT Barry Cofield, WR Leonard Hankerson [knee] and WR Aldrick Robinson [thigh] all left the game with injuries. Cofield, who was having a great game before the injury, injured his right hand, but as of this writing, X-ray results were unknown. Until the extent of the injury is revealed it is impossible to know how much time Cofield will miss, but the injury could thin out a defensive line already smarting from the season-ending injury to DE Adam Carriker and the 4-game suspension of DE Jarvis Jenkins. According to Rick “Doc” Walker of ESPN 980, Cofield does not believe the injury is too serious. UPDATE: However, NBC is reporting that Cofield has a broken hand. After the game, Head Coach Mike Shanahan said Cofield does have a fractured right hand and will wear a cast until it is healed.
Early in the second quarter, with the Redskins leading 7-0, Kirk Cousins faked a reverse handoff, but saw no open receivers and took off running. He pump faked near the line of scrimmage and took off, picking up seven yards. On the next play, Cousins rolled out to the right and picked up another seven yards for a first down before Lawrence Timmons tackled him near the sideline. Cousins appeared injured on the play, limping back to the middle of the field for the huddle. However, before huddling up Cousins sat down on the field and waited for Washington’s medical team to come out to him. He was quickly taken off the field and after trying to walk the injury off on the sideline, he left for the locker room, his night ending early. The official word is that Cousins has a sprained right foot, but it is not considered serious. However, Cousins was spotted wearing crutches after the game so I don’t know if we can believe any early prognosis on this injury. After the game, Head Coach Mike Shanahan mid foot sprain, believed to be mild. Cousins completed two of three passes for 19 yards before the injury.
The scoring got under way in the first quarter on Pittsburgh’s second possession. On first down NT Barry Cofield beat Maurkice Pouncey like a drum and sacked Roethlisberger, bringing up second and long. Roethlisberger tried to get a chunk of it back with a screen pass to his running back, but OLB Ryan Kerrigan read the play perfectly. He stepped between Roethlisberger and his target and easily picked off the pass, bobbled it for a moment, then secured the ball and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. The Kai Forbath extra point made the score 7-0. The play didn’t happen by accident, according to Kerrigan, who said “Fletch [ILB London Fletcher] alerted us before the play, ‘screen, watch the screen.’ Sure enough, that’s what came out and I was able to intercept it and take it to the house.”
The Steelers came back with a drive that started at their 15-yard line and ended with field goal for Pittsburgh to cut the lead to 7-3.
After Cousins’ injury, Rex Grossman came on and looked good early, throwing a second quarter 10-yard touchdown pass to Hankerson, who made a beautiful leaping one-handed catch to secure the ball in the end zone. That play put the Redskins up 14-3. However, the Steelers came back and moved the ball from their own 20-yard line deep into the Washington red zone thanks to an interference call on CB E.J. Biggers, an unnecessary roughness call on S DeJon Gomes and a long pass to WR Emmanuel Sanders over Biggers for a large gain. Good coverage by S Jordan Pugh on Pittsburgh’s backup tight end in the end zone forced a Steelers field goal, which cut the lead to 14-6 with only 56 seconds left in the first half.
The Redskins started at the 22 and went into the hurry-up offense immediately. Grossman quickly hit Roy Helu and Santana Moss, each for 14 yard gains, to move the ball to midfield. After a short pass to TE Fred Davis, Grossman killed the clock by downing the ball with 11 seconds left. Grossman took one last shot at a scoring drive by throwing deep over the middle to WR Aldrick Robinson, who made a gutsy catch for 23 yards to move the ball to Pittsburgh’s 20-yard line. Forbath came on to kick the 38-yard field goal and give Washington a 17-6 lead at halftime.
Robinson [thigh bruise] was injured on the play and Hankerson [knee] was injured earlier, but after the game Mike Shanahan said neither injury is serious and time missed should be minimal.
The second half was quiet, with the Steelers scoring a touchdown early in the fourth quarter with rookie QB Landry Jones at the helm. CB Chase Minnifield was beaten deep on the drive and LB Bryan Kehl got completely turned around on a running back screen pass, allowing a big gain.
However, the Redskins finished out the scoring when Pat White entered the game and ran the read-option on back-to-back plays, picking up 13 yards each time to move the ball to midfield. The success of those read-option plays paralyzed the Steelers a few moments later when White, in the pistol, handed the ball off to Roy Helu, who raced through a big hole in the middle of the line and ended the play 30 yards later in the end zone to put the Redskins up 24-13. Backup LT Tom Compton came over and made a great block on that play to spring Helu for the touchdown.
Backup running back Keiland Williams injured his knee in the fourth quarter and, after briefly returning to the game, had to leave.
OLB Brian Orakpo, CB Josh Wilson and SS Brandon Meriweather all skipped the game while they continue to get healthy.