Rookie Robert Griffin III is not only earning early votes for Rookie of the Year but also MVP as the Washington Redskins meet the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
Even in a loss, many were calling Griffin the best player on the field in Washington’s tight 27-23 loss to the New York Giants last week.
The multi-faceted Griffin went 22-for-28 for 258 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and also gained 89 rushing yards on nine carries. The Baylor-grad floated a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Santana Moss that put the Redskins up 23-20 with 1:32 left, but the Giants’ Victor Cruz responded less than 20 seconds later with a 77-yard touchdown reception to clinch New York’s win.
Griffin’s otherwise stellar performance was negated due to Washington’s inept and last ranked pass defense, which lets up 328.4 passing yards per game.
The Redskins secondary will continue to sting the offense’s superb play with safety Brandon Meriweather still out with a knee injury, and with their trip to Pittsburgh Sunday.
The Steelers have the NFL’s sixth best passing offense, but they’ve been forced to throw due to a running back corps that cannot stay on the field.
Veteran Rashard Mendenhall is listed as out with his Achilles injury flaring up, and Isaac Redman is questionable with an ankle injury.
Leaving many of the carries to reserve back Jonathan Dwyer who is listed as probable after gaining 122 yards on 17 carries in Pittsburgh’s 24-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
The Steelers were down 14-3 midway through the second quarter after receiver A.J. Green’s eight yard touchdown reception, but tied the game with a nine-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller in the final minute of the first half.
The Pittsburgh defense then held the Bengals to a lone field in the second half, and running back Chris Rainey scored on an 11-yard run with 14:16 left in the game for the win.
Roethlisberger finished 27-for-37 for 278 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and connected with receiver Antonio Brown seven times for 96 yards. Miller made six receptions for 53 yards and his score, and Mike Wallace had a game-high eight receptions for 52 yards.
While no has been able to contain Washington’s Griffin, Pittsburgh will have an even tougher time with safety Troy Polamalu listed as out for the second straight game, and he’s only played in two contests this year due to a calf injury.
The game begins at 1 p.m. EDT and will be shown by FOX, or watch a live stream online by purchasing NFL Sunday Ticket Max.
Betting Odds: Pittsburgh is favored by 4.5 points
Over/Under: 47.5 points
Prediction: Polamalu’s continued absence is a huge boon for the Redskins, as he could’ve been Pittsburgh’s quarterback spy throughout the game. But the Steelers still have the second best pass defense and the ninth best run defense in the league, and should have a clear cut win Sunday.
Predicted Score: Pittsburgh 27, Washington 20