There were not too many highlights for the highlight reel on a rainy Saturday night in Washington as the Steelers lost to the Redskins 17-13. The Steeler defense looked lethargic giving up 167 yards rushing, while only allowing 137 yards through the air. The Steelers used mostly the third stringers past halftime to get a good look at the lower end of the roster.
The few bright spots for the Steelers were second year running back Rashard Mendenhall and CFL free agent Stefan Logan. Mendenhall ran for 26 yards on 5 carries and should good vision and balance. Logan who got the majority of the return duties, had 4 kickoff returns for an average of 39 yards and a long of 60. He also chipped in a 12 yard average on 4 punt returns. Third string quarterback Dennis Dixon also should good poise, going 8 for 16 through the air for 68 yards. Dixon did leave the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
The starting offense skill positions looked OK without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who was sidelined with an Achilles contusion. Charlie Batch started and went 5 for 14 for 63 yards while under a ton of pressure. The starting offensive line looked shaky minus starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu who was sidelined with a rib injury. Doug Legursky got the start and the whole offensive line allowed pressure on the ends and up the middle. The reserves did not fair much better. Second year tackle Tony Hills was outplayed all night.
The starting front three on the defensive side of the ball was unimpressive once again. Going up against a strong Redskins offensive line, the front three never seemed to get penetration or pressure. The starting linebacker core and secondary however played well.
The key turning point of the game was a fourth quarter fumble by rookie Joe Burnett on his lone punt return of the night. This is the second fumble in two games for Burnett and clearly a problem. The turnover gave the Redskins the ball at the Steelers 18 yard line and on the first play, quarterback Chase Daniel hit tight end Fred Davis for a touchdown on a play were both linebacker Tom Korte and safety Derrick Richardson bit on the play action fake. Earlier in the game, Burnett also gave up a touchdown to Redskins receiver, Marko Mitchell, on a jump ball to the corner of the endzone.
The Steeler special teams unit looked great again for the second game in a row. Running back Mewelde Moore, fullback Frank Summers and offensive lineman Darnell Stapleton also missed the game with injuries. Besides Dixon, offensive lineman Jeremy Parquet suffered a rib injury.
The Steelers move to 1-1 on the preseason and will play the Buffalo Bills next Saturday night at Heinz Field.