Steelers abysmal in first loss of the season to Washington

Tommy Jaggi
Logan Thomas #82 of the Washington Football Team. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Logan Thomas #82 of the Washington Football Team. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers were handed their first loss of the season by the Washington Football Team. Here’s why they should be embarrassed.

Well, it’s official: The Steelers have been handed their first loss of the 2020 season. After a perfect 11-0 start, Pittsburgh was humbled by the Washington Football team in a 23-17 loss. This one hurts.

Pittsburgh was in sole possession of first place in the AFC race for the number one seed and the single first-round bye in the playoffs, but those chances just lessened after a disappointing loss to Washington. Though the Steelers currently hold the AFC tiebreak over the Kansas City Chiefs because their loss was out of conference, they can ill afford to drop another game down the stretch. With the Bills, Colts, and Browns still remaining on their schedule, this will be tough to do.

What went wrong for the Steelers?

The first quarter didn’t quite go according to plan for the Steelers. Though the offense would have liked to come out firing on all cylinders after justifiably receiving criticism for their lackluster effort against a decimated Ravens team last week, Pittsburgh put up a goose egg in the first quarter. Randy Fichtner’s scripted offense was not working at all, and the Steelers had some head-scratching plays that saw them punting the ball three straight times to begin the game.

Fortunately, the defense made up for their lack of momentum early in the game. Pittsburgh’s front four got pressure on Alex Smith while Mike Hilton and the secondary came up with some big defensive stops early on. This dominance continued throughout the first half as the Steelers surrendered just 122 passing yards to Alex Smith on 22 pass attempts (5.5 yards per attempt). In addition, Smith was sacked three times in the first half for minus 23 yards. Meanwhile, with running back Antonio Gibson leaving the game on the first drive, Pittsburgh had no trouble shutting down Washington’s rushing attack – allowing just 15 yards in the first half.

Despite a dominant half of football for Pittsburgh’s defense, Washington was gifted 3 points by the officials as they foolishly stopped the clock as Alex Smith ran off the field with the football that was needed to kick the field goal with no timeouts remaining. If not for this sly move, Washington very likely would have ran out of time to get the snap off.

Washington ran away with it in the second half

The second half was much worse for Pittsburgh. Though they held a 14-0 lead up until the closing seconds of the first half, Washington since went on a 23-3 run. The defense gave up a few big plays down the field to allow Washington to fight back in it, but Pittsburgh’s offense is truly to blame here.

What wasn’t a disaster on offense in Week 13? Randy Fichtner called another predictable game, the run game couldn’t move an inch, receivers were dropping passes left and right, and Ben Roethlisberger had several balls tipped – the final resulting in an interception in crucial moments of the game.

The harsh reality of the situation is that Pittsburgh’s offense is just not good enough right now to get them anywhere in the playoffs, and losing to a 4-7 Washington team as an undefeated 11-0 organization is just plain shameful. We couldn’t expect the Steelers to be perfect in 2020, but this loss gives them no breathing room in trying to lock down the top seed in the conference.

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At the end of the day, Pittsburgh needs to get back on their horse and get ready to compete against the Buffalo Bills on another short week. But this loss stings and changes must be made on offense if the Steelers want a shot at a Super Bowl this year.