PITTSBURGH – The Washington Redskins may be the most electrifying offense in the NFL but they also have a defense that allowed 38 points to the punchless Cincinnati Bengals this season.
Overall, the Redskins of coordinator Jim Haslett are 29th in yards allowed per game, 28th in points allowed per game, and last in passing yards allowed per game.
Part of their problem in pass defense is that they have only 13 sacks. But on the flip side they rank third in the NFL with 10 interceptions.
“I don’t look at them as either giving up a big play or the big play possibility being there,” said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “They are a takeaway machine. They take the ball away and score on defense. To me, that’s something I need to keep my eyes on rather than the big play being available.”
No Redskin has more than the 2 interceptions pulled in by cornerback DeAngelo Hall and linebacker Rob Jackson, but Jackson, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and safety Madieu Williams have returned interceptions for touchdowns. The Redskins are tied for first in the NFL with 52 passes defensed.
“I don’t look at numbers,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s totally misleading. I think they’re a very good defense and they get after you and confuse you. If you get caught up in the numbers game, it will bite you in the butt.”
STEELERS ADD SAFETY
The Steelers called up safety Damon Cromartie-Smith from the practice squad and released guard John Malecki.
Cromartie-Smith not only gives Steelers coach Mike Tomlin another option as a replacement for the injured Troy Polamalu, he provides another special teams player after Tomlin had vowed to make changes for “egregious” penalties the last couple of weeks.
Cromartie-Smith spent the majority of the 2011 season on the Steelers’ practice squad before being called up Dec. 8, 2011.
The Steelers are expected to sign Malecki back to the practice squad after the game.
GOING FOR 400
The Steelers might be wearing their 1934 bumblebee-style throwback jerseys today, but they’re going for the modern day record 400th regular-season win since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The Miami Dolphins are second with 388 post-merger wins.
The Steelers have won their last three home games against the Redskins. Roethlisberger is 2-0 versus the Redskins and 14-1 at home against the NFC (won last eight). The Redskins haven’t won here since 1991.
REDSKINS RUSHING RECORD
In the 80-year history of the Redskins-Steelers series, the Redskins’ rushing record for yards in one game is only 84, set by Ricky Ervins in 1991 when the Redskins beat the Steelers 41-14.
Today, the Redskins are looking to break that record with the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL. They’ve rushed for 100 yards or more as a team for 13 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NFL. The second-longest streak is three.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Redskins have some ugly special-teams numbers: 11 of 16 field goals, 5.5 punt-return average, 23.4 kickoff-return average. … Redskins linebacker London Fletcher has played in 231 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. But the 37-year-old is questionable today after straining his hamstring last week. … OLB Kerrigan hasn’t missed a defensive snap since entering the league in 2011.