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Steelers open season with 38-16 win in Washington

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DeAngelo Williams rushed for 143 yards and Ben Roethlisberger threw for 300 -- 126 to Antonio Brown -- as the Steelers won their season-opener on the road over the Washington Redskins, 38-16.

There was a time on Monday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers trailed the Washington Redskins. That lasted only five minutes.

After the Redskins opened the scoring with two field goals on their second and third drives, the Steelers took control, outscoring Washington, 38-10.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception on Pittsburgh’s second drive, but recovered to throw three touchdowns. Wide receiver Antonio Brown caught two of those touchdowns, the second accentuated by an enthusiastic celebration that garnered a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.

“When you have one of the best in the business, if not the best, you are going to find a way to get him the ball,” Roethlisberger said of Brown.

While Roethlisberger and Brown led the offense, the Steelers were without two regular staples in their offense. Wide receiver Martavis Bryant and running back Le’Veon Bell are both suspended for failed marijuana tests; Bryant for the season, Bell for three games.

DeAngelo Williams stepped up in Bell’s absence. For the second straight season, Williams began the season as the Steelers’ starting running back because of a Bell suspension. Monday night, Williams rushed for 143 yards on 26 carries and scored two touchdowns

After Dustin Hopkins kicked his second field goal of the game to give the Redskins a 6-0 lead, the Steelers compiled an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive.

However, taking the lead took a gutsy play call. After Roethlisberger found tight end Jesse James for a 7-yard gain on 3rd and 8, the Steelers were faced with a dilemma; kick a 47-yard field goal or try and advance a yard to get a 1st down.

Roethlisberger didn’t do either. He opted to look for a familiar target. Though he drew double-coverage, Brown caught Roethlisberger’s fade pass and gave the Steelers a lead they refused to relinquish.

After the Redskins turned over the football on downs at the Steelers 33, Pittsburgh scored again. After they advanced to Washington’s 3, wide receiver Eli Rogers, who missed all of 2015 with a foot injury, caught his first NFL touchdown. Roethlisberger actually targeted wide receiver Sammie Coates in the end zone, but the ball bounced off of him and into Rogers’ hands.

The score gave the Steelers a 14-6 lead at halftime.

In the second half, Pittsburgh would score on all but two of its drives.

The barrage began with a 46-yard field goal from Chris Boswell to conclude the first drive of the third quarter. The Steelers scored three touchdowns the next four drives, with Brown catching another score and Williams running for two.

Washington managed a touchdown after the Steelers only punt of the second half and cut the score to 24-16 with 13:01 remaining in the game.

Williams’ first touchdown extended the Steelers’ lead and essentially put the game away for good. He made an impressive juke move past two defenders for a 15-yard score.

“I don’t even know how I got through there,” Williams said. “Normally when I run the ball, I don’t know what I want to do.”

Defensively, the Steelers thrived thanks to a shaky showing from Redskins’ quarterback Kirk Cousins. Pittsburgh intercepted Cousins twice, but failed to sack Steelers Ryan Shazierhim. Cousins had plenty of time to make throws, but often his attempts were too low for his receivers.  

The only negative from the game for the Steelers was that linebacker Ryan Shazier left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. Shazier was seen on the sideline standing, but with his right knee wrapped up. After the game, Shazier told reporters that his knee was “completely fine.”

The Steelers next game is Sunday, September 18th against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. The last time these two teams met was in the 2015 AFC Wild Card Game. Pittsburgh won, 18-16, thanks to three Cincinnati penalties in-between plays that gave the Steelers an extra 45 yards and led to a Boswell 35-yard game-winning field goal.

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