Ben Roethlisberger tossed a trio of touchdown passes on Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Washington Redskins, 27-12, at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger threw for 222 yards on 24-of-33 passing and Jonathan Dwyer carried the ball 17 times for 107 yards to lead the Steelers (4-3) to their sixth straight victory at home.
"I think we've improved as a team and that's what this journey that is a football season is about," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin remarked. "You better find ways to win along the way. I like the direction in which we're heading."
Robert Griffin III struggled to find his rhythm all day, as the rookie signal caller completed just 16-of-34 passes for 177 yards and one touchdown, while managing just eight rushing yards on six carries.
Alfred Morris carried the ball 13 times for 59 yards for the Redskins (3-5), who have lost five straight games against the Steelers.
"To come into this environment and win you have to play one of your better games both offensively, defensively and special teams and we did not do that," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan admitted. "I'm disappointed in the number of opportunities that we had and plays we didn't make on both sides of the football."
Washington had rushed for over 100 yards in 13 straight games, but the stout Steelers' defense held the Redskins' ground attack to just 86 yards as a team.
It was the Steelers' offense that got things started, as Roethlisberger found Heath Miller for 25 yards down to the Washington 46 on the second play from scrimmage.
Roethlisberger converted a 3rd-and-7 with a 15-yard strike to Emmanuel Sanders later in the drive before Mike Wallace's 11-yard catch moved the Steelers down to the Washington five.
Dwyer was stuffed on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but Pittsburgh elected to go for it on the goal line and Roethlisberger faked the handoff and found Leonard Pope in the front of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown pass to cap the 12-play, 76-yard march that chewed up over seven minutes of the clock.
After a quick three-and-out from the Redskins, Dwyer ripped off a 34-yard run on Pittsburgh's first play of the ensuing drive, setting up Shaun Suisham's 48-yard field goal to press the margin to 10-0 late in the first.
Griffin completed back-to-back passes to spark the Redskins' next touch, including a 31-yard toss to Logan Paulsen to move the visitors into Pittsburgh territory.
Facing a 3rd-and-4 early in the second quarter, Griffin rolled left and hit Josh Morgan for five yards down to the Pittsburgh 3.
Washington couldn't punch it on any of the next three plays, but the Redskins elected to go for it on 4th-and-goal and Griffin found Santana Moss across the middle for a 2-yard TD pass. The extra point attempt was blocked however, leaving the Redskins with a 10-6 deficit and 11:33 left in the second.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers responded quickly, as the Pittsburgh signal caller put together a string of three straight completions to move his team to the Washington seven.
After back-to-back incompletions, Roethlisberger capped the 10-play, 74-yard trek with a 7-yard TD strike to Miller dragging across the back of the end zone to make it a 17-6 margin midway through the second.
Sav Rocca shanked a punt on Washington's ensuing possession, setting the Steelers up with great field position at their own 45. Roethlisberger found Sanders for 27 yards on the next play before Dwyer rumbled for 13 more.
The drive stalled there however, and the Steelers settled for a 27-yard field goal from Suisham to extend the lead to 20-6 just after the two-minute warning.
Griffin opened the second half with a 37-yard toss to Niles Paul to move the Redskins to the Pittsburgh 42, but Washington would have to settle for a 48- yard field goal from Kai Forbath to pull within 20-9.
The Steelers answered again, though, as Roethlisberger completed all five of his passes on an 11-play, 80-yard scoring march.
Facing a 3rd-and-3 from the Washington 21, Chris Rainey took a direct snap and rushed 19 yards around the right end to give the Steelers a 1st-and-goal.
Two plays later, Roethlisberger faked a handoff and hit Will Johnson sneaking out of the backfield for a 1-yard TD strike to press the lead to 27-9 with 5:13 left in the third.
A 27-yard punt return by Brandon Banks set the Redskins up in Pittsburgh territory late in the third and Washington took advantage of the favorable field position early in the fourth, as Forbath buried a 45-yard field goal to bring the visitors within two scores with 12:11 left in the game.
The Redskins forced a quick punt from the Steelers to regain possession, but Griffin's pass to Moss on 4th-and-17 slipped through the wideout's hands to give the ball back to the Steelers, who were able to run out the majority of the clock to secure the victory.