LANDOVER, Md. — One-and-a-half steps, toss a rainbow dime 30 yards downfield with a wide receiver well covered and a safety also chasing.
Not exactly the standard fourth-and-1 call, but the Pittsburgh Steelers will always push the limits and live with the consequences — against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, and everyone else.
That Ben Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown 29-yard touchdown early in the second quarter was the highest degree of difficulty, but these two have their favorites in their bag of goodies; they ran the same play in the third preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, also for a touchdown.
As expected, the Steelers are staying aggressive throughout this matchup. On third-and-inches? Shotgun, of course. On a separate fourth-and-1, Roethlisberger found slot receiver Eli Rogers in zone coverage. Tons of no-huddle play calling throughout.
This is just the way it’s going to be this season. It’s their nature to be bold and fast.
Consider this stat: Since 2006 and entering Monday, 24 NFL pass attempts have gone at least 25 air yards on fourth-and-1. Teams were 6-24 passing in those situations with two touchdown passes, by Brett Favre (2008 Jets) and Peyton Manning (2015 Broncos). Roethlisberger joins them, and now he has 274 career touchdowns, one more than Joe Montana and good for 13th all time.
The Steelers can live with the mistakes, and there will be a few. For example, Rogers’ touchdown catch with 27 seconds left bounced off the chest of Redskins corner Bashaud Breeland.
The very reason Roethlisberger is unafraid of making mistakes is also the reason why he had 151 yards and two scores in the first half.