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Redskins Steelers 3rd Quarter

Redskins Steelers 3rd Quarter

The Redskins have done little to nothing offensively. That's the bad news. The good news is that they're still in it.

14:50—Byron Leftwich is in at QB for the Steelers. Big Ben hit his hand on Golston's helmet just before halftime. We have yet to receive an update in the press box.

12:28—His first pass is a doozie, 50 yards to Nate Washington for a first down at the 11.

Parker 1 run (kick failed)
Steelers 16, Redskins 6

The defensive struggle is over, at least on one side of the ball. That was pretty easy for the Steelers with their backup QB hitting on the bomb and then zipping one to Moore for a third-down conversion. The missed extra point could well come into play but, again, the Skins have to score.

As to Allen's comment on Rogers' hands, yes, but the offense needs to score. They now have one offensive touchdown in six quarters and counting.

8:50—A second-down sack kills the Redskins initial drive of the half before it even gets started. The sacks are starting to mount and the Skins just can't keep operating from the hole.

7:16—The Steelers run a draw on second and 17 from about their own 40. They seem to be content with their 10-point lead. The way the Pittsburgh D is playing, I probably would be, too.

4:10—The Skins have a little something going on offense here after getting their initial third-down conversion of the game.

3:41—But it ends on Campbell's first interception of the year. The ball went through the hands of Portis and into those of Townsend.

3:41—Zorn challenges that the ball was intercepted. It's very close but it does look like Townsend had control just before Portis knocked it out.

1:31—Things are starting to look grim as the Skins waste a sack by Horton by giving up a third and 15 conversion. Another big third down coming up here with four to go.

0:10—The Steelers convert as the third quarter ends.

End of third quarter
Steelers 16, Redskins 6

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Poll: How many more wins for the Redskins?

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Fumbles not bouncing the Redskins' way this year

Fumbles not bouncing the Redskins' way this year

As Kirk Cousins likes to say, each season is its own entity. Sometimes things that went well for you in one 16-game stretch in one year won’t got well during a 16-game stretch in subsequent years. And that is the case with the Redskins and recovering opponents’ fumbles.

In 2015 the Redskins were scooping up loose balls all over the place. Opponents put it on the carpet 36 times and the Redskins recovered a league-leading 16 of them. Doing the math, they recovered the ball 44.4 percent of the time.

This year, with the same defensive coordinator and many of the same players on defense, it’s a different story. Through 12 games, the Redskins have forced 18 fumbles and recovered seven. Projecting it out over a 16-game season, they are on pace to force 24 fumbles and recover 9, a 37.5 percent recovery rate.

However, the decrease in the rate of fumble recoveries has not hurt the Redskins as much as you might think. This year they are on pace score about as many points after fumbles as they did last year.

In 2015 they started the average drive following a fumble recovery at their own 46. They drove for two touchdowns and three field goals. The Redskins returned one fumble for a touchdown so they got a total of 30 points off of fumbles.

This year they started at their own 36 on average and they have scored two touchdowns and two field goals on drives and they have no fumble returns for touchdowns. With 20 points through 12 games, they are on pace to score 27 points because of recovering fumbles.

One thing that must be noted here is that the effect of recovering fumbles goes beyond just scoring points after doing so. Even if the offense goes three and out after a fumble recovery the other team’s drive got stopped and after the punt field position gets flipped.

Also, timing is everything. The fumble that went out of the end zone following the Ravens’ interception in Week 5 saved seven points in a six-point Redskins win. Josh Norman’s forced fumble in the fourth quarter against the Packers didn’t have quite the same impact as the one in the Ravens game but it did help them wrap up an important win.

And we are looking at a small sample size so the projections could change in a major way. If the Redskins recover two fumbles on Sunday and turn them into 10 points they would be closer to last year’s pace for recoveries and ahead of 2015 for points off of fumble recoveries.

In any case, that the Redskins are recovering fewer fumbles this year than last should not be surprising. As the stat guys like to say, fumble recoveries aren’t “sticky” from year to year. Teams that recover a lot of fumbles one year don’t tend to repeat it year after year. There is a lot of luck involved; nowhere is the bounce of the oblong ball more decisive than when hits the ground.