News & Analysis

NFL Week 13 PFF ReFocused: Washington Football Team 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Dec 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Football Team cornerback Jimmy Moreland (20) and defensive end Chase Young (99) celebrate a defensive stop against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Drops, batted passes and an inefficient rushing attack all contributed to an abysmal showing from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense against the Washington Football Team on Monday night. And the Steelers’ highly regarded defense simply couldn’t pick up enough of the slack, as Washington handed Pittsburgh its first loss of the season, 23-17.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

STORY OF THE GAME

The Steelers’ woes on offense ultimately put the team behind the Football Team, 20-17, with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Washington edge defender Montez Sweat batted a Ben Roethlisberger pass high into the air and into the hands of veteran linebacker Jon Bostic for the would-be game-sealing interception.

Roethlisberger, however, was not the root issue for the Steelers’ lackluster offensive performance. The veteran signal-caller will likely finish PFF’s grading review process as one of the game’s highest-graded offensive players. He recorded two big-time throws and had eight passes dropped on first review. Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Eric Ebron all had multiple drops in the game.

Steelers running backs Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr. were seldom used in the game — and for good reason. The duo combined for just 20 yards from 12 carries.

Alex Smith and the Football Team were not much better offensively, to be fair. The unit averaged 0.4 fewer yards per play than Pittsburgh and took three sacks. The lone bright spots for Washington’s offense were tight end Logan Thomas and Cam Sims, as both pass-catchers cleared 90 receiving yards on the day. Veteran running back J.D. McKissic also stepped up in the absence of Antonio Gibson, who left the game early due to injury (toe), with his 10 receptions for 70 yards.

Dec 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) reacts after a first down against the Washington Football Team during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

ROOKIE WATCH

The two rookie receivers with at least 20 routes run in the contest, Washington’s Isaiah Wright and Pittsburgh’s Chase Claypool, both underwhelmed Monday night. Claypool had just two receptions for 38 yards, and Wright hauled in a lone reception from three targets for five yards.

Both of the Football Team’s rookie starters on defense, safety Kamren Curl and edge defender Chase Young, had strong outings. Curl finished with three defensive stops on first review, and Young had two of his own in addition to two pressures.

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