04 Steelers Defeat Redskins 16-7, Pittsburgh Gets 1st Win Over Joe Gibbs

[Editors Note:  Tony Defeo expands on Steelers history vs Washington Redskins ahead of Pittsburgh’s 2016 opener on Monday Night Football @ FedEx Field]

’04 Steelers defeat Redskins, Pittsburgh 16, Washington 7, November 28, 2004 @ Heinz Field 

Behind rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers entered Week 12 of the 2004 season sporting a 9-1 record. Washington, on the other hand, came to down with a 3-7 mark and was a 10-point dog.

  • By all accounts, it should have been an easy day for Pittsburgh…but looks can be deceiving.

Despite having one of the worst offenses, the Redskins had a dominant defense in ’04, one that would go on to finish third in total yards and fifth in points (16.6 per game).

  • The Steelers defense was even superior to Washington’s, finishing first in total yards.
Jerome Bettis, Steelers vs Redskins, Jerome Bettis Redskins

Jerome Bettis rumbles over Redskins in Steelers 2004 win over Washington. Photo Credit: Peter Diana, Post-Gazette

With defense at the forefront, the game remained scoreless until kicker Jeff Reed connected on a 33-yard field goal late in the first quarter to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 advantage.

Early in the second quarter, receiver and return specialist Antwaan Randle El returned a punt 43 yards down to the Washington 39-yard line. Seven plays later, running back Jerome Bettis, filling in for an injured Duce Staley in one of the final starts of his career, plowed into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a 10-0 lead.

Reed kicked another field goal late in the second quarter to increase the lead to 13 points at halftime.

While it wasn’t the dominant performance many fans had probably expected, the lead felt secure, what with Pittsburgh’s defense harassing Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey all day and sacking him five days. Of course, Roethlisberger was under siege most of the game, as well, and was taken to the turf four times, as he completed just nine of 20 passes for 131 yards and no touchdowns.

But while the defense was doing its job, there was one hiccup late in the third quarter, when Ramsey found tight end Chris Cooley for a two-yard touchdown pass to pull the visitors to within six points.

  • The Redskins would score no more.

Pittsburgh regained its two-score advantage, when Reed connected on his third field goal with less than 10 minutes left to make it 16-7. And with under five minutes remaining, cornerback Deshea Townsend picked off a Ramsey pass to seal the deal.

  • For the day, the two teams combined for a less than robust 363 total yards, with Pittsburgh holding the Redskins to a mere 156.

But while the Steelers offense mostly struggled to move the ball,  Bettis, in the kind of slobberknocker affair that epitomized his Hall of Fame career, carried the ball 31 times for 100 yards.

The Steelers improved to 10-1 and would go on to become the first AFC team to win 15 regular season games. The ’04 Steelers defeat of the Redskins also gave Bill Cowher something Chuck Noll never had  – a win over Joe Gibbs.

 

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