The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from Washington’s 23-17 Victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Washington Football Team shocked the outside world as they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17 and ended their undefeated season. Washington put together a gritty performance for another semi-national audience, this time against a better opponent. In winning they kept pace with the New York Giants atop the NFC East at 5-7.  Let’s take a look back at the game.

The Good

Cam Sims catches the ball in the 4th quarter against the Steelers. 12/7/20
  1. Logan Thomas and Cam Sims- With Antonio Gibson getting injured early, and the main focus of the Steelers defense was on Terry McLaurin, Washington needed other players to step up offensively. They found some unlikely stars in JD McKissic, Cam Sims, and Logan Thomas. Thomas’ effort was there from start to finish: converting a 3rd and 14 (that was mistakenly called short,) recovering a fumble, and catching the only Smith touchdown pass. Sims on the other hand made tough catch after tough catch including the biggest catch of the night on the game winning drive. These players stepped big time in the win.
  2. The Defense- Against a solid offensive team the defense held the Steelers to 26 yards rushing and 17 points with only 3 after halftime. While not recording a sack the defensive line turned to the next best thing, knocking passes down. That led to the game clinching interception with Montez Sweat batting a pass and Jon Bostic getting the interception. Earlier in the game the team had a big 4th and goal stop after the Steelers got five chances inside the five yard line. The Washington defense ended up being the best unit on the field.
  3. White on White- Coach Ron Rivera said that he wanted to make a statement and the team definitely did with the white jersey, white pants combination. Twitter loved it and the players seem to as well. It is a very clean look and Washington showed themselves well. Coach Rivera said he may break them out again before the season is over.

The Bad

Alex Smith attempts a pass against the Steelers. 12/7/20
  1. Antonio Gibson- Washington lost its starting rookie running back early in the game with a toe injury. Toe injuries usually linger and with Washington on a short week that doesn’t bode well for his chances to play Sunday versus the 49ers. Coach Rivera did not have an update this morning but hopefully they can get him back soon. The rushing attack of the offense went away as soon as he left the game.
  2. First Half Offense- Once again the Washington offense got off to a slow start offensively. Part of it was the Gibson injury but Alex Smith missed some throws, there were drops by receivers, and some missed blocks on key downs. All of that led to a futile offense in the first half with the exception of the final drive. Washington needs to get out to faster starts.
  3. Alex Smith’s Leg-  No not that leg but Alex Smith’s other leg. Late in the first half Smith was spiked by left guard Wes Schweitzer and his left proceeded to bleed all over his lower leg and cleat (the downside of the white on white uniforms). It was a stunning sight and Smith was able to get it wrapped and cleaned at the half. That was one of the worst spikings I have ever seen.

The Ugly

Terry McLaurin catches a pass against the Ravens. 10/4/20
  1. Terry McLaurin- In 2020 Terry McLaurin has moved onto the national stage as one of the best young wideouts in the NFL. McLaurin has gotten open against defenses all season but last night he had an off game. McLaurin had some drops on plays he has proven to make before and did not make an impact on the stat sheet. However McLaurin still did the little things like block and compete during the game. I fully expect McLaurin to bounce back next week.
  2. Short Week- With the movement of this of the game by one day, that lessens the time for Washington to prepare and recover for their next game. Washington will travel to Arizona to face the displaced San Francisco 49ers with few nicked up players.
  3. NFC East- The so called worst division in the NFL, had two back to back days of stunning victories first with the New York Giants defeating the Seattle Seahawks on the road, and then Washington beat the Steelers. Depending on the Dallas Cowboys versus Baltimore Ravens game, the Giants and Washington will have some separation in their battle to win the division and an outside chance at a wild card berth. Unfortunately Washington will have to finish ahead of the Giants as they have the tie-break advantage by winning but head to head series 2-0.
Felix Trammell