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Redskins can't keep up with big plays from Brown, Big Ben, fall in season-opener

Redskins can't keep up with big plays from Brown, Big Ben, fall in season-opener

LANDOVER, MD— The Redskins had some chances early and put on a game rally late but they couldn’t quite catch up to a torrid Steelers offense and they lost their season opener to Pittsburgh 38-16.

The Steelers got a few good breaks on the way like a fumble that Ryan Kerrigan had in his hands and but couldn’t quite hold on to and an pass in the end zone that bounced off of Bashaud Breeland and to a Steelers receiver for a touchdown. But mostly the Steelers won because it Ben Roethlisberger could dial up Antonio Brown whenever he needed a big play. The NFL’s best wide receiver didn’t have eye-popping numbers, with eight catches for 126 yards but he caught two touchdowns and a several other clutch passes.

Meanwhile the Redskins had some familiar problems. They were unable to finish drives, settling for field goals on their first two possessions when touchdowns would have given them a good working margin. They couldn’t run the ball well, picking up 47 yards on just 11 carries. And Washington couldn’t stop the run as Williams ran for 143 yards on 26 carries.

Kirk Cousins had a spotty night, completing 30 of 43 passes for 329 yards but he threw some off-target passes in key moments. He was intercepted twice.

Chris Thompson scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it one-score game at 24-16. But the Steelers answered with a 13-play drive capped by a 15-yard Williams TD scamper and the competitive phase of the game was over.

The Redskins don’t have long to recover from this one. They have a short turnaround before facing the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday at FedEx Field.

Injury Updates: No injuries reported for the Redskins.

Scoring drives:

First quarter

— Hopkins FG 31

Drive: 9 plays, 54 yards, 3:24

Drive summary: This one got off to a quick start when Kirk Cousins threw to DeSean Jackson going over the middle. The wide receiver turned upfield for a gain of 33 yards to the Pittsburgh 31. They faced third and two but Cousins threw low to Jackson, who dug it out for six yards and a first down at the 17. The drive stalled and Hopkins came in and opened the scoring with the field goal.

Redskins 3, Steelers 0 5:56 remaining            

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— Hopkins FG 40

Drive: 5 plays, 14 yards, 2:35

Drive summary: The Redskins got a short field to work with after Bashaud Breeland plucked a tipped Roethlisberger pass out of the air and returned it 26 yards to the Pittsburgh 37. Then Cousins went to Jamison Crowder for a gain of 11. But they couldn’t move from there and Hopkins came in to boot another three-pointer.

Redskins 6, Steelers 0 1:08        

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Second quarter

— Brown 29 pass from Roethlisberger (Boswell kick)

Drive: 11 plays, 75 yards, 5:58

Drive summary: The Steelers drive got off to a rocky start when Ryan Kerrigan sacked Roethlisberger and knocked the ball out. But after Kerrigan had his hands on it briefly, the QB ended up with it. A few play later they got out of the hole after they converted a third and eight on a pass to Antonio Brown for 13 yards. After a couple of DeAngelo Williams runs, Roethlisberger went to tight end Jesse James for eight yards to the Washington 38. On fourth and one from the 29, the Steelers went for it all and got it with Roethlisberger going to Brown in the end zone, who was able to grab the ball away from Bashaud Breeland and DeAngelo Hall.

Steelers 7, Redskins 6 10:10      

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— Rogers 3 pass from Roethlisberger (Boswell kick)

Drive: 14 plays, 67 yards, 5:52

Drive summary: The Steelers got the ball when the Redskins were just short on a fourth-down conversion attempt in their own territory. The got going with a few DeAngelo Williams runs and they converted another fourth down. This one was on fourth and one from the Redskins 34 and Roethlisberger found WR Eli Rogers wide open for a gain on 19. Then on third and four from the nine, the pass went to Jesse James for a gain of six. On the next snap, Roethlisberger threw over the middle and the pass bounced off of a receiver and Bashaud Breeland before it landed in the arms of Rogers for the TD.

Steelers 14, Redskins 6 0:27                  

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Third quarter

— FG Boswell 46Brown 60 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 8 plays, 47 yards, 3:42

Drive summary: The Steelers got this drive jump started in a 16-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Brown to convert a third and three. On the next play DeAngelo Williams bolted for 17 yards to the Washington 35. A few plays later Chris Boswell kicked it through the uprights.

Steelers 17, Redskins 6 11:18               

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— Brown 60 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 5 plays, 75 yards, 2:04

Drive summary: This drive started after Kirk Cousins threw a pass that was picked off by linebacker Ryan Shazier. On second down from the Washington 25, Roethlisberger picked up a low snap and he launched it deep down the left sideline to a covered Sammie Coates. But Greg Toler mistimed his play on the ball and the receiver made the grab for a gain of 42 yards. Two plays later Roethlisberger dropped one into the bucket, hitting a streaking Brown for the touchdown.

Steelers 24, Redskins 6 7:01                  

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— FG Hopkins 34

Drive: 9 plays, 52 yards, 5:00

Drive summary: The Redskins started from their own 32 and got going with a 12-yard run by Matt Jones. The Cousins completed four straight passes for a total of 42 yards to move into scoring range. But a holding penalty stalled the drive and after throwing the ball away on third and six they again had to settle for three points.

Steelers 24, Redskins 9 2:01

 

Fourth quarter

— Williams 15 run (Boswell kick)

Drive: 13 plays, 73 yards, 7:13

Drive summary: The Steelers answered right back after the Redskins scored their first touchdown. Two DeAngelo Williams runs and a pass to Jesse James got it started. Then on third and 13 from the Washington 41 Roethlisberger fired to Sammie Coated for 14 and a first down. A few plays later Williams took a handoff, broke free at the line, and bolted 15 yards for the touchdown.

Steelers 31, Redskins 16  4:58  

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— Williams 6 run (Boswell kick)

Drive: 6 plays, 45 yards, 2:23

Drive summary: The Steelers took over on downs after a late, desperate Redskins drive stalled. A 16-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Brown moved them to the Redskins 11. Two plays later Williams found running room to the left and scored from six yards out.

Steelers 28, Redskins 16 1:54               

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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USA TODAY Sports

As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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