By Teresa Varley
The Steelers evened out their preseason record at 1-1 after a 17-13 loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not play as he was sidelined with a foot injury suffered near the end of practice on Thursday.
"He is fine. Well, not fine of course," said head coach Mike Tomlin, giving the first update on Roethlisberger. "If he was fine, he would have played. We don't think it's going to be a long term thing at all."
Charlie Batch started at quarterback completing five of 14 passes for 63 yards, while second-year quarterback Dennis Dixon saw plenty of action before being taken to the locker room in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
"I don't have the report at this point," said Tomlin of Dixon. "It looks like an AC joint. We'll see."
Willie Parker scored the only touchdown of the game for the Steelers on a three-yard run in the first quarter. Jeff Reed and Piotr Czech each added a field goal to complete the scoring.
Penalties hurt the Steelers as they were called for 13 for a total of 89 yards, while the Redskins were flagged seven times for 52 yards.
The Steelers defense came out and shut the Redskins down right out of the box, stopping them on three plays for zero yards. But the Redskins had a little something up their sleeve and out of the punt formation running back Rock Cartwright got the direct snap and went around right end for 15 yards to keep the drive alive.
With new life the Redskins marched down the field, aided by a 10-yard completion to Chris Cooley, a seven-yard carry by Ladell Betts and carries of 11 and eight yards by Clinton Portis to the Steelers three-yard line. The defense tightened the reins there, stopping Betts short of the goal line on his next two carries and forcing the Redskins to settle for a 20-yard Shaun Suisham field goal.
Batch wasn't gun shy in his first start since the regular season-finale in 2007 against Baltimore, going to the air early on. Batch didn't have a lot of success right off the bat, throwing incomplete to Parker, before hitting him for a two-yard gain. On third down Batch couldn't connect with Heath Miller, but DeAngelo Hall was called for unnecessary roughness giving the Steelers a first down.
Parker went up the middle for two yards, but on the next play Carey Davis was called for a false start backing the Steelers up. Parker added a one–yard carry, giving the offense a tough third-and-11. It looked like it might be the second coming of the Immaculate Reception when Santonio Holmes pulled in a reception that bounced off of Hines Ward, but after reviewing the play the ball hit the ground and was ruled incomplete and the Steelers were forced to punt.
After the defense held the Redskins to a three-and-out, Batch got the offense rolling. A 13-yard completion to Holmes gave the black and gold a first down at the Redskins 37-yard line. Ward hauled in a 24-yard reception to set them up at the 13-yard line. Batch went right back to the air and found Miller for a 10-yard gain to the three-yard line. Parker capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run to give the Steelers a 7-3 first quarter lead.
Dixon came in to run the Steelers offense with 9:31 remaining in the second quarter and immediately used running back Rashard Mendenhall as a weapon. Mendenhall carried the ball three straight times for 19 yards. Dixon took it airborne after that, with a short completion to Shaun McDonald. A fumbled snap on the ensuing play though forced the Steelers to punt.
Once again the defense came up big forcing the Redskins to go three-and-out and putting the ball back in Dixon's hands. Dixon went to work with only 3:49 on the clock and got the offense in gear. He completed a seven-yard pass to McDonald and found rookie Mike Wallace for a 12-yard gain. Dixon hit Limas Sweed for a 17-yard gain, which brought on an official review but was upheld.
On the next play Dixon found himself under pressure, but escaped and scrambled for a 17-yard gain to the Redskins 14-yard line. A five-yard illegal formation penalty pushed the Steelers back to the 19-yard line and a delay of game tacked on five more yards. Mendenhall was able to get some of it back on an eight-yard carry, but it wasn't enough. Reed came on and hit a 34-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-7.
The Redskins got the ball back but not for long. Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff intercepted Todd Collins and returned it 10 yards to the Washington 35-yard line. With just three ticks on the clock Reed came out for a 53-yard field goal, which had enough leg but went wide right. Reed got a break when the Redskins were called for defensive offsides, but his second attempt from 48-yard went wide left to end the half.
The Redskins tied the game on their first drive of the second half. Chase Daniel came in at quarterback and completed four of five passes for 32 yards while Marcus Mason added 29 yards on the ground. Daniel capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Marko Mitchell to tie the game at 10-10.
It didn't take long for the Steelers to regain the lead. On third down Dixon hit Martin Nance for an 18-yard gain. Dixon added an eight-yard completion to Brandon Williams, but it came up one-yard shy of a first down. Czech put the Steelers back on top, 13-10, when he hit on a 41-yard field goal.
Daniel got the Redskins offense moving, but not for long. Number one pick Ziggy Hood got a sack for the second straight game when he knocked Daniel for a 12-yard loss. He recorded his second sack of the game on the next play when he tracked down Daniel for no gain, forcing a punt. Rookie Joe Burnett fielded the punt at the 18-yard line, but fumbled after he was hit and the Redskins recovered. They wasted no time making the Steelers pay for the mistake, as Daniel aired it out to Fred Davis for an 18-yard touchdown and 17-13 lead.
The Steelers went three-and-out and the Redskins went into ball-control mode, keeping it on the ground and running time off the clock. But when Colt Brennan went to the air, linebacker Tom Korte made him pay when he intercepted the pass at the five-yard line and returned it 27-yards to the 32-yard line.
With Dennis Dixon in the locker room with a shoulder injury, Mike Reilly was called upon to try to bring the Steelers from behind. Despite making some nice plays, including a 20-yard scramble, Reilly was under pressure and unable to engineer the comeback.
Notes: Stefan Logan was given plenty of opportunities to show what he can do in the return game and he responded. Logan handled all five kickoff returns for a total of 157 yards, a 39.2 yard average that included a 60-yard return. Logan also returned four punts for 48 yards…Guard Chris Kemoeatu did not start with a rib injury. Doug Legursky got the start at left guard…Rookie Frank Summers was sidelined with a hamstring injury.