After the Denver game, James Washington began to draw some deserved criticism. After the success of JuJu Smith-Schuster, 2017’s 2nd-round pick, Washington was looked at as potentially being another great addition.
Up until this point, Washington’s rookie campaign had been pretty pedestrian. Maybe not even that good. Struggles had even gotten to the point of being benched in favor of Justin Hunter, but after Hunter suffered a season-ending injury, Washington would be called on again.
Well, he answered the call Sunday night.
He didn’t make a big play until the second half, but man, it was worth the wait. On a 2nd-and-6 from the Pittsburgh 25 yard-line, Ben Roethlisberger aired out a pass down the sideline and Washington kept up above tight coverage and made a phenomenal catch for 32 yards. After a short pass to JuJu, Ben went back to Washington for a short pass, where he shed the initial tackler and gained a total of 24 yards into the red zone.
The Steelers ended up missing a field goal try on that drive, but the rookie stepping up and making big plays in big games could be the huge lift he’s needed to succeed. He could help provide a spark as the third receiver and make this offense unstoppable. Time will tell, but this game was huge for him.