Running back Willie Parker got a chance to return kickoffs Friday night at FedEx Field against the Redskins and made the most of it, taking the opening kickoff back 43 yards to the Steelers' 41-yard line. Parker fielded a subsequent kickoff on one bounce and was held to a 17-yard return. Parker also replaced Verron Haynes , at least temporarily, as the third-down back, entering the game on offense on the Steelers' first third down of the evening.
Parker's number was called again when Jerome Bettis exited with a right-calf injury. Bettis limped off at the conclusion of the Steelers' second series and was replaced at running back by Parker at the outset of the Steelers' third possession. Parker exploded for 51 yards on his only carry of the first half.
Cornerback Ike Taylor was the first extra defensive back summoned into action by the Steelers. Taylor came on in a five-defensive backs set on Washington's first third down of the night.
Taylor saw some time with the first-team defense at right cornerback in place of Deshea Townsend on the redskins' second possession. Taylor and Ricardo Colclough alternated with starters Townsend and Willie Williams throughout the rest of the second half. Taylor was also used in the "quarter" package, along with safety Russell Stuvaints, with linebacker Larry Foote and nose tackle Casey Hampton coming out of the game in such situations.
Coach Bill Cowher said coming in he wanted to get wide receiver Antwaan Randle El at least one punt return, but Randle El wound up taking a fair catch on his only attempt.
The Steelers went with two tight ends, a fullback, a running back and a wide receiver on third-and-1 from the Redskins' 6 early in the second quarter. The receiver was Randle El, not Hines Ward .
The Steelers weren't penalized in the first half. The Redskins were flagged five times for 35 yards.
Strong safety Troy Polamalu's 34-yard interception return for a touchdown marked the third touchdown by the Steelers' defense in as many games. Williams went 10 yards with an interception return for a score against Philadelphia, and linebacker James Harrison returned a fumble 69 yards for a score against Miami.
No. 1 pick Heath Miller recorded his second reception of the preseason, gaining 4 yards after coming out of the backfield to accept a pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger . Miller was often employed in third down/passing situations along with a running back and three wide receivers.
Lee Mays was the second wide receiver off the bench, following Cedrick Wilson into action behind starters Ward and Randle El.