PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped plenty of issues Monday evening at Heinz Subject, culminating with the most important drop of all: their undefeated season and a possibility to clinch their first playoff berth since 2017.
The Steelers fell to the Washington Soccer Workforce 23-17, blowing a 14-point lead that was the second largest at dwelling in franchise historical past.
Up 14-0 with seconds till halftime, the Steelers surrendered simply their second loss when up by at the very least 14 factors since 2004. Since drafting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, the Steelers are 109-2-1 when main by 14 factors at any level, together with playoff video games.
Tied at 17 with lower than 5 minutes remaining, the Steelers had an opportunity to place factors on the board. However with beginning kicker Chris Boswell out with a hip damage, the Steelers elected to go for a fourth down conversion going through fourth-and-1 from the Washington 28.
Roethlisberger focused rookie Anthony McFarland on a wheel route, however the operating again, who has performed sparingly, could not haul it in on a double transfer, and the Steelers turned it over on downs for the second time Monday night.
The Washington Soccer group (5-7) responded by doing what the Steelers struggled to do all evening: They moved the ball down the sphere and put factors on the board. Quarterback Alex Smith hit Cam Sims on a 29-yard completion on third-and-4 to the Pittsburgh 25, and 4 performs later, kicker Dustin Hopkins kicked a 45-yard subject objective to offer Washington a 20-17 lead.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers had an opportunity to retake the lead with a two-minute drill, however Montez Sweat tipped Roethlisberger’s first go try, and former Steelers linebacker Jon Bostic hauled within the quarterback’s lone interception of the evening. Sweat was throughout Roethlisberger’s fast go makes an attempt Monday, batting three of them.
It was one other painful weekday efficiency in a sport that was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 ripple impact. Monday’s sport was initially scheduled for Sunday afternoon, however when the Steelers’ sport in opposition to the Baltimore Ravens was finally pushed again to Wednesday, the league rescheduled this sport for Monday afternoon at 5 p.m. ET.
Even with the adjusted schedule, the Steelers nonetheless needed to put together on a brief week, whereas Washington had 11 days to prepared for the league’s solely undefeated group.
For second sport in a row, the Steelers sputtered in opposition to an inferior opponent, taking part in sloppy offense marred by drops — and this time, it price them an undefeated season. The Steelers had seven drops in opposition to Washington, their most previously 15 seasons and essentially the most within the NFL this season.
Vast receiver Diontae Johnson, who scored the Steelers’ first landing, had three of the Steelers’ drops Monday, and leads the league with 9 this season. The three drops additionally ties him with Leonard Fournette and DJ Moore for many in a sport this season.
For the second week in a row, the Steelers could not get something going within the run sport, with James Conner nonetheless sidelined on the reserve/COVID-19 checklist. The Steelers rushed for a season-low 21 yards, averaging 1.5 yards per play within the run sport. Benny Snell had eight carries for five yards — together with three runs that went nowhere on the objective line — whereas McFarland had 4 carries for 15 yards.
The seven-drop efficiency and sluggish run sport comes on the heels of a five-drop outing in opposition to the Ravens — one Mike Tomlin expressed his disgust with after the shut win by attributing the drops and crimson zone failures to at least one factor: “Us sucking.”
The Steelers’ offense appeared extra like its 2019 model Monday evening, persevering with a development that first appeared final week in opposition to the Ravens. Previously two video games, the Steelers have averaged 4.8 yards per play and a pair of.6 yards per rush. In 2019, they averaged 4.7 yards per play and three.7 yards per rush, each thirtieth within the league.
The Steelers’ protection almost shut out Washington within the first half till they scored a subject objective within the closing seconds of the half. Within the second half, Smith picked aside Pittsburgh’s zone protection and outscored the Steelers 20-3 within the second half.
The Steelers additionally misplaced two extra key members of their protection all through the course of Monday’s loss. Inside linebacker Robert Spillane sustained an obvious left knee damage within the third quarter, and although his return was listed as questionable, Spillane didn’t re-enter the sport. Avery Williamson, whom the group acquired in a commerce with the Jets simply earlier than the deadline, changed him. Then, within the fourth quarter, cornerback Joe Haden sustained a doable concussion — particularly problematic with the Steelers already down a beginning cornerback with Steve Nelson (knee) inactive.
ESPN Stats & Data contributed to this report.