Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) crosses into the end zone as Washington Redskins defensive back David Bruton (30) watches from the turf during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. The Steelers defeated the Redskins 38-16. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)
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LANDOVER, MD. -- The Steelers will begin the 2016 season in the win column.
Ben Roethlisberger thew for 300 yards and three touchdowns as the Steelers won their regular season opener 38-16 over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Monday Night.
Roethlisberger and the offense overcame a slow start to outscore Washington 31-10 in the final three quarters as the Steelers quarterback connected twice with Antonio Brown and once with Eli Rogers for touchdowns.
A three-and-out on the Steelers' first offensive possession led to a quick Washington field goal. It was followed up by a Bashaun Breeland interception on Roethlisberger, who grabbed a tipped pass off Rogers' hands and returned it 26 yards to the Steelers 37-yard line. Backed up near the red zone, the Steelers defense bent but didn't break as it limited the Redskins to another field goal after giving up 14 yards on five plays.
And then came the fireworks.
On a fourth-and-1 conversion at Washington's 29-yard line, Roethlisberger connected with Brown off a play-action fake for the Steelers' first touchdown with 10:10 left in the second quarter. Brown made a tiptoe catch in the left corner of the end zone through double coverage.
The Steelers then drove 67 yards on 14 plays on their next drive, and received a little luck at the end of it. A pass intended for Sammie Coates tipped right into the hands of a waiting Rogers for a 3-yard score. Breeland jumped Coates' slant route at the goal line and caused the ball to deflect off Rogers' helmet before the second-year Steelers receiver came down with it.
It was Rogers' first career touchdown as the Steelers led 7-6 at halftime.
Chris Boswell added a field goal early in the third quarter before Roethlisberger connected with Brown for the All-Pro receiver's second and final score of the night. Brown burned his defender down the left sideline to haul in the touchdown. He racked up 126 yards on eight receptions.
The Redskins scored 10 straight points before DeAngelo Williams added two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns to close out the game. The Steelers running back ended with 143 yards on 26 carries.
The Steelers finished with 435 yards of total offense and went 9 for 14 on third-down attempts. The defense held the Redskins to just 55 net rushing yards and picked off quarterback Kirk Cousins twice, who finished 30 for 42 with 329 yards and zero touchdowns.
The Steelers improved to 1-0 in the win while the Redskins fell to 0-1. The Steelers look next to an AFC North matchup with the Bengals on Sept. 18.
Brown's highlight-reel touchdown reception on fourth down lit a spark in the Steelers offense that hadn't been performing like its usual self up to that point. Roethlisberger threw a pick on his second offensive possession, and almost followed it up with another turnover when Ryan Kerrigan forced a fumble that the Steelers later recovered. As the offense was in the midst of its first sustained drive of the game, Mike Tomlin had a decision to make on fourth and one. It may not have been the most popular one, but it sure did set a tone for how the rest of the game would play out.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
DeAngelo Williams, RB
Happy Birthday, D-Will. The phrase repeatedly heard from Steelers players over the course of training camp was a microcosm of the veteran running back's performance against the Redskins. Williams, 33, has faced doubts surrounding his ability to produce like the workhorse back he was during his prime in Carolina. Well, his age didn't matter Monday night as Williams averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored his team's final two touchdowns. Before Williams' two scores, the Redskins had scored 10 straight points to make it a one-possession game.
Ryan Shazier's performance played a major factor in the Steelers defense limiting Cousins to zero touchdowns. Shazier, who was called upon to blanket Redskins tight end Jordan Reed for a majority of the night, ended with one interception. He also executed a major pass breakup in the back of the end zone covering Reed that forced the Redskins to kick a field goal. "We're going to play a lot of good tight ends this year, and Reed is one of the best ones we'll play," Shazier said. "I just wanted to do what I had to do for my team. I was just doing my job."
Sean Davis was Keith Butler's primary nickel cornerback Monday night. The rookie finished with three tackles in his season debut. "My coverage was pretty good today. I didn't really get too many targets, but I've got to do a better job tackling."
Surprisingly, Redskins cornerback Josh Norman did not shadow Brown and was held to the right side of the field for the entirety of the game. Instead, the Redskins doubled Brown with a safety and cornerback, primarily Breeland, which worked to no avail. "It's all about winning," Brown said. "It's not about who is on me."
BY THE NUMBERS
13: Roethlisberger surpassed Joe Montana for 13th on the all-time passing touchdown list
7: The Steelers led in the game during seven offensive drives
43,000: Roethlisberger eclipsed 43,000 career passing yards in the first quarter
"I knew somebody was going to bring that up."
-- Williams, on if he thinks he's getting better with age
Shazier exited the game with a knee injury and is being evaluated.
Week 2: vs. Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) at Heinz Field
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
No Vontaze Burfict, no Le’Veon Bell, no matter. This week’s game needs no buildup despite the suspensions to two of the main characters in recent series history. The Steelers might not consider the Bengals their biggest rival, but they are their biggest threat to win the AFC North. Cincinnati has won the division title two of the last three years, including last season. Still, the Steelers went 2-1 against Cincinnati in 2015, winning both games on the road. That includes Pittsburgh’s 18-16 win in the AFC Wild Card Game. The Bengals lost receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency, they’ve already lost prized draft picks William Jackson III and Andrew Billings to injury and could be without star tight end Tyler Eifert this week as he continues to rehab an ankle injury sustained in the Pro Bowl. Despite that and the Bengals’ recent playoff failures, it hasn’t hampered expectations for Cincinnati. In Week 1, the Bengals scored an impressive 23-22 road win over the New York Jets as A.J. Green torched Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis for 180 yards and one TD, while Andy Dalton threw for 366 yards on 23 of 30 passing. The Steelers are 58-35 all-time vs. Cincinnati, with a 30-16 record at home. In Mike Tomlin’s nine previous home openers, the Steelers are 8-1, the lone loss coming in 2013 against Tennessee.