Game 8 Matchup: Steelers vs. Redskins

Gerry Dulac breaks down the Election Eve game


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Game plan

When the Steelers have the ball: The Steelers are expecting to have RB Willie Parker return after missing the past four games with a sprained knee, but there has been little drop off in production with Mewelde Moore, who has averaged 101 yards rushing in his past three starts. The problem, though, has been the depth. The team has received little production from its other backs. Gary Russell and Najeh Davenport have combined for just 36 yards on 12 carries the past three games. The Redskins have been beset with injuries in their front line and secondary, and will be without DE Jason Taylor and CB Shawn Springs.


Data

Game: Steelers (5-2) vs. Washington Redskins (6-2).

When: 8:30 p.m.

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

TV: ESPN, WTAE.

Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970).


When the Redskins have the ball: The Steelers' top priority will be stopping RB Clinton Portis, the NFL's leading rusher who has run for 120 yards or more in each of his past five games. The Redskins also have former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, signed as a free agent Oct. 14, but he has just 19 yards on nine carries in two games. One of the reasons for Portis' success is LT Chris Samuels, who is expected to return after missing the last game. The Redskins rushed for 193 yards against the Browns, a team that plays a similar 3-4 defensive scheme. Also, QB Jason Campbell has been very efficient, completing 66.1 percent of his passes, and is the only NFL quarterback with more than 30 attempts to not throw an interception.

Keep an eye on ...

WR/PR Santana Moss: He is the Redskins' big-play threat, whether catching the ball or returning punts. He has caught three passes of 50 yards or longer, second most in the league. The Steelers haven't allowed a pass play longer than 35 yards this season. Former Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El leads the Redskins with 24 punt returns for 157 yards, but Moss has returned two punts this season -- one for an 80-yard score last week against Detroit.

Intangibles

The Redskins have won two consecutive games and haven't started 7-2 since the 1996 season. This is their only Monday Night Football appearance of the season and the game was scheduled by ESPN because it is election eve in the nation's capital. The Steelers haven't played a regular-season game in Washington since the 1988 season and have lost their past two MNF games on the road. They are 0-2 against NFC East teams this season.

Keys to victory

To win, the Redskins must ...

1. Drill Ben, drill. The Redskins have only 10 sacks, but they will no doubt try to copy the game plan of the other NFC East teams.

2. Get Clinton to the (White) house. Portis has more runs of 20-plus yards than any other back in the league and has scored seven TDs.

3. Have Campbell be m-mmmm good. He has had two games in which he has completed more than 73 percent of his passes.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Knock the El out of Antwaan. The former Steelers receiver has completed both passes he has attempted this season.

2. Be the boss of Moss. The 5-foot-10 receiver already has three 100-yard receiving games, three more than the Steelers have managed.

3. Springs some big plays. WR Nate Washington has TD catches of 48, 50 and 65 yards and the Redskins will be without their top corner.Keys to victory




Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com .


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