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Nov. 2, 2008

Redskins underplay and underwhelm

by Jeremy Gradwohl, Online Op/Ed Editor
Lately there has been a lot of buzz about the upcoming Monday night football game between the Washington Redskins and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many a Blazer has boasted and bragged about the Skins' explosive rushing offense and forceful, hard-hitting defense - yet the team's hopes of a crucial win could easily be shattered.

The Redskins have a tendency to underestimate lesser teams, and in that sense, they are underwhelming. This is why the Redskins have not won by a blowout, even against the 3-4 Cleveland Browns or the Detroit Lions, who are winless through week eight. This is why the Redskins lost to the 2-5 St. Louis Rams at home, having blown a late fourth-quarter lead. The Rams offense, which the National Football League ranks as 28th out of 32, should not have been able to score so handily against the Redskins's 6th-ranked defense. The Rams 29th-ranked defense should have not have been able to contain the Redskins's seventh-ranked offense. But they did, and there is a big difference between the 7-1 Redskins who only lost to the last year's Super Bowl champions and the 6-2 Redskins who lost to the "not-quite-ready-for-primetime" Rams as well.

Head-to-head, the Redskins appear to have the upper hand over the Steelers. Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell reigns supreme over Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this season, with a rating 15 points higher. Washington star running back Clinton Portis carries the team, literally, to each victory, leading the NFL in rushing yards. The Steelers are coming off a loss to the New York Giants after leading for most of the game and giving up 12 points in the final quarter. On top of this, the Steelers suffer from injuries, a significant one being the knee injury of running back Willie Parker.

A win against the Steelers would put the Redskins at 7-2 heading into their by week. The Redskins can then rest for a week in anticipation of a tough schedule for the rest of the season, starting with a home game against rival Dallas. If the Redskins can pull off a win against the Steelers and a second win against the Cowboys, they are shoo-ins for the playoffs.

The Redskins need to make sure that they do not let their opponent's weaknesses get to their heads. If the Redskins can anticipate the Steelers' being at least on their level, the Redskins will do phenomenally on Monday night's showdown. The Steelers are not a better team, but lest we forget the Rams game, the Redskins must be on their "A game."



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