It is Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium. The Redskins, who performed so miserably inside the 10-yard line last week against New Orleans, have the ball at the Steeler one-yard line, first down and goal to go.
Washington's offensive line breaks the huddle and moves over the ball. The sellout crowd roars in the background as Pittsburgh's famed "Steel Curtain" front four braces.
What will be going through the heads of those Washington offensive linemen? Will the failure against the Saints affect them? Each player was asked yesterday to visualize that moment and talk about it:
Center Bob Kuziel (against middle linebacker Jack Lambert) -- "The theme of this week has been to have confidence in the way we play. I don't think what happened against New Orleans will hurt us. If anything, we'll be more determined.
"We scrutinized very closely the films of last week. We saw how just one breakdown here or there hurt us, but how close we were to being right. What happened to us is going to happen to every team. I'm just convinced that we've used up our season's allotment already and that it's not going to happen to us again.
"I go through a checklist down there. I have to make sure about the blocking schemes, then make sure I make a good exchange. I have to get my footwork down right and get low and get my feet going and get off the ball.
"The exchange -- that's the thing for me. The one thing you want to do down there is eliminate any glaring errors, and the worst of those would be a bad exchange. You can't have that.
"Sure, you get excited, but the defense probalbly gets more excited. They've only got a yard to protect and they can get fired up. We can't let our emotions get in the way of our assignments. Where it gets difficult is when you have to read what the defense is doing on the goal and make quick adjustments on the move. The defense can do any variety of slants; anything to upset the offense. When they guess right, it's great but when you see a guy go into the end zone untouched down there, lots of time it's because they guess wrong."
Guard Jeff Williams (against tackle Joe Greene) -- "I try to concentrate even more down there, because we don't want a mistake at that moment. We have to be sure we get it in.
"You try to be a little more aware of the situation than maybe you are at midfield. Every play at the goal line could mean a touchdown, so you tend to go a little harder, maybe try for the second block.
"It's a tough block, because the defensive linemen are low to the ground. They are submarining and trying to get underneath you. And I have to pull a lot because we run a lot of wide stuff down there.
"When you get close, you get nervous -- at least I do. And you can hear the crowd, whether you mess up or do well. You try not to, but you can. The noise is always there.
"We can score, no question about it. We've just got some bad breaks. What happened against New Orleans won't have any effect, at least on me. But I don't think it will affect anyone else, either. We aren't going to roll over just because we couldn't get the ball in."
Guard Ron Saul (against tackle Gary Dunn): "You say to yourself, 'Every play can be a touchdown. We've got it this far, let's take it in.' I've been there a lot. It's what you are playing for, to score and to move it in. You just have to do the job, no matter what the defense is trying to do.
"There really is nothing difficult or mysterious about it. Football is still blocking and tackling, that's all. If you block right on offense, you win. If you tackle right on defense, you win.
"Sure, the defense tightens up and it gets more congested. The key is, being an offensive lineman, you have to beat the other guy to the punch. You have to get off the ball faster and prevent him from penetrating.
"I don't care what happens in the past. If we don't get it in one time, we'll get it in the next. I get angry after the game, when I can think about it. During the game, you can't afford to dwell very long on any one play. If you do, it is affecting your concentration."
Tackle Terry Hermeling (against end John Banaszak): "Score, score, score. That's the only thing that should be on your mind. What else is there? It's your job, why you are out there.
"You have your job to do, period. You can't be thinking about other things, letting your mind wander. You concentrate on the guy across from you. They are going to be trying to penetrate and flatten you out, so the linebackers can come over the top and make the tackles. You can't let them do that to you.
"For a tackle like me, things are simple. It's not like a guard who has different assignments. For me, it's one thing. I go after that guy in front of me. If he goes down, I win. If he makes the play, it's my fault.
"No excuses down there, you either whip them or you don't. It's a little harder because you aren't going to move anyone too far. They're nose-diving and you don't get a lot to block.
"You can hear the crowd only because the noise sometimes makes it hard to hear the quarterback's cadence. Otherwise, you shouldn't be hearing anything. Just concentrating."
Tackle George Starke (against end L. C. Greenwood) -- "You think about your objective. You know they're going to be firing off low and hard and that the point of attack will be small for you to block, so you concentrate on what you are supposed to do.
"The situation differs only in terms of intensity. It's a key play, a key block. They know you're going to run the ball, so it makes it easier for them to defense the play.
"You have to consider it just another play, to wipe out any emotion. You just have to execute, although it's harder because they're playing the run tight and things happen quickly.
"You never dwell on the past. If you do, you never have a future. When something happens, it happens and you have to forget about it. That's what you learn after you've been in this league for a while. If you dwell on failures, you're bound to lose.
"This is a game of infinite flexibility. It changes every moment, every game, every day. You have to keep up with the present. I couldn't tell you 10 things right now about the Saints game. I have forgotten most of it within three days. Sunday, I thought about the Saints. Monday, I thought about the Steelers, period.
"It's really quite simple down there. It takes 11 guys to get the play right. If you have one mess up, you're risking failure. It has to be a coordinated effort. That's why we work so hard on goal-line offense in practice. Obviously, we have to keep working harder.
"L. C. Greenwood? Oh, just another All-Pro defensive end to block. There seems to be one every week. Guess it comes with the position."
Footnote -- The last four weeks, with the Steel Curtain completely healthy, the Steelers have held opponents under 100 yards rushing in all but one game. Over that span, they have allowed only one touchdown on the ground.
"It won't be easy scoring down there on them," Kuziel said. "But it's never easy against anyone. Still, we can do it. Now we have to prove it."
Saul, who missed the New Orleans game with a sprained ankle, went through his longest workout of the week yesterday and held up well . . . The offensive line again worked overtime, reviewing various Pittsburgh blitzes. The Steelers blitz frequently some games, and in others hardly at all. "But when they come, they might send everyone," Coach Jack Pardee said. "We're just brushing up on things to make sure our assignments are right" . . . Pardee, ever the optimist, even saw something positive about the hard rain yesterday. He said it gave the team a chance to work on artifical turf and in bad weather. "That about covers it for the week," he said . . .Pittsburgh will start a rookie, Dwayne Woodruff, at cornerback in place of injured Ron Johnson.