NFL Nation: MNF9 rapid reaction
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Steelers put their AFC pride on the line Monday. Pittsburgh had lost to the Eagles and Giants from the NFC East, and a loss to the Redskins would have invited even more doubters.
But it didn't come to that because the Steelers' defense held the Redskins to two field goals early in the game. The Redskins were dreadful on third down. They were 0 for 9 before finally converting one in the second half. The stretch running play that had been the Redskins' calling card all season wasn't there against the relentless Steelers defense.
Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell threw his first two interceptions of the season and wasn't particularly efficient at any point in the game. Even when the Redskins finally sustained a long drive midway through the fourth quarter, they stalled inside the Steelers' 10-yard line.
Coach Jim Zorn has been praised for his motivational ploys and imaginative offense this season, but the play he called on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter was a head-scratcher. Campbell rolled right and tried to throw it to defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander, who had reported as an eligible tackle. Linebacker James Farrior made a nice play on the ball, but you still have to wonder why they didn't try to smash it in with Clinton Portis from the 1-yard line.
The Redskins have mixed the West Coast offense with a smashmouth running game for much of the season, but they were all finesse against the Steelers. Portis had his streak of five games with 120 yards or more interrupted.
The Steelers made the Redskins one-dimensional in the fourth quarter and linebacker Lawrence Timmons ended any hope of a rally by sacking Campbell for a big loss with just under four minutes left.
With two minutes left, the only fans left at FedEx Field were wearing black and gold. The Redskins defense feasted on Ben Roethlisberger in the first half, but he wasn't able to return for the second half because of a right shoulder injury.
It didn't matter, though, because backup Byron Leftwich was rock solid. He stepped away from pressure and completed a 50-yard pass to Nate Washington to set up the Steelers' second touchdown. After going up 16-6, the Steelers defense caused a three-and-out and then Campbell's first interception of the season. It was Campbell's first interception in 271 attempts, a franchise record.
Campbell never looked comfortable in the pocket. When he dropped his arm down to try to find different passing angles, the Steelers did an excellent job of knocking the ball down. The Redskins head into their bye at 6-3, a record they most certainly would've embraced at the beginning of the season. But while the loss was disappointing, Zorn will quickly try to put it in perspective for his players. The loss makes the Dallas game in two weeks even more important.
Zorn was still working the officials after the final gun sounded, but the Redskins have only themselves to blame for this loss. Campbell was sacked five times and he rushed throws on the few occasions when he had time in the pocket. Zorn always talks to his team about now "flinching."
That will be a tough assignment after this effort. The Steelers pushed the Redskins around in the second half. And for one night, they struck a blow for the AFC.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Pittsburgh Steelers made a huge statement Monday night.
But the cost of their statement is yet to be determined.
Pittsburgh proved it can play --and beat -- a very good NFC East team, pounding the Washington Redskins 23-6 before a national television audience on "Monday Night Football" and 90,512 fans at FedEx Field. But most Steelers fans are nervously awaiting the injury status of starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who didn't return for the second half with a right shoulder injury.
Roethlisberger barely moved his throwing shoulder the entire second half while supporting his teammates from the sideline. Steelers backup quarterback Byron Leftwich (129 passing yards, one touchdown) filled in and kept the offense moving in the second half.
Despite the injury concern, Pittsburgh's win was very significant and lifts the team to 6-2. The Steelers maintained a full game lead over the Baltimore Ravens (5-3), as they continue a tough stretch that includes home games against the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers in back-to-back weeks.
That two-game stretch becomes a lot tougher if Roethlisberger is forced to miss time. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is expected to address the injury status of his franchise quarterback in a matter of moments, so stay tuned.
Final Cleveland 10 Baltimore 20 Final Dallas 44 Washington 17 Final Indianapolis 27 Tennessee 10 Final Jacksonville 17 Houston 23 Final San Diego 7 Kansas City 19 Final New York 37 Miami 24 Final Chicago 9 Minnesota 13 Final Buffalo 17 New England 9 Final Philadelphia 34 New York 26 Final New Orleans 23 Tampa Bay 20 Final Carolina 34 Atlanta 3 Final Detroit 20 Green Bay 30 Final Oakland 14 Denver 47 Final Arizona 17 San Francisco 20 Final St. Louis 6 Seattle 20 Final Cincinnati 17 Pittsburgh 27