- The Washington Football Team defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-17 on Monday night.
- It was the first defeat for the Steelers this season.
- With the win, Washington gained a tie for first place in the NFC East division.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ unbeaten season is no more after the Washington Football team pulled off a massive 23-17 upset on Monday night.
Washington traveled to Pittsburgh where they had not won since 1991. The Steelers had a 78-1 record at Heinz Field when leading a game by 14 points or more. But this has been a year like no other:
FINAL: @WashingtonNFL takes down the Steelers! #WashingtonFootball #WASvsPIT
(by @Lexus) pic.twitter.com/04HoNbIdDY
— NFL (@NFL) December 8, 2020
Pittsburgh unraveled and Washington pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the season. Alex Smith’s quest for Comeback Player of the Year award got a major boost and Washington got back in the playoff race.
Unraveling Against Washington
With Robert Spillane’s sack on Alex Smith, the Steelers tie the current NFL record with 69 consecutive games with at least 1 sack.
The last time the Steelers didn’t get a sack in a game was week 7 of the 2016 season. Since then, they have led the NFL in total sacks every season. pic.twitter.com/vzV9Mjbz3H
— Steel Faithful (@Steel_Faithful) December 7, 2020
Pittsburgh’s defense recorded a sack in a 69th consecutive game, tying the record of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( from 1999-2003) for the longest streak since the stat became officially recorded in 1963. But that was just about the only good kind of history that the Steelers would make on Monday night.
They opened Monday’s game with a 14-0 lead before Washington got on board with a field goal before the end of the first half. Pittsburgh had a near infallible record when up by at least two touchdowns in the Ben Roethlisberger era. But they unraveled against Washington and suffered only their second loss in 112 games when leading a game, including playoff games, by at least 14 points. The timing couldn’t come worse.
The Steelers were looking to become the 9th team in the history of the NFL to start the season with a 12-0 record since the 16-game regular season format was adopted in 1978. Of the first eight teams to accomplish the feat, eight made it to the Super Bowl while three went all the way to win it all- the 1985 Bears, 1998 Broncos, and 2009 Saints. But that was not meant to be.
[email protected] had a 4-7 (.364) record before knocking off the 11-0 Steelers.
That’s the lowest win percentage by a team to defeat an opponent that entered 11-0 or better in NFL history.
h/t @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/KdbNDLiMez
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 8, 2020
While the Steelers started the season with 11 straight wins, there were doubts whether they would go 16-0 this year. But among their remaining opponents, nobody thought that it would be Washington who would end the run. We knew that Washington would compete well and perhaps even cover the betting spread, but who expected them win the game outright and end the Steelers’ unbeaten run?
According to SportsBetting.ag before the game, a $100 bet on Washington would win $245 on Monday night while it would have taken a $290 wager to earn $100 on the Steelers. But the 6.5 point underdogs defied the odds and turned the tide in the final two quarters to win the game by six points.
At 4-7, Washington has the worst win percentage (.364) by a team in league history to defeat an opponent who entered the game with an 11-0 record. Unlikely? They were led by a quarterback who entered this season as the back-up after undergoing 17 surgeries on his leg and nearly lost his life due to sepsis.
Comeback Player of the Year?
Alex Smith made it back from what many considered a career-ending broken leg in 2018. @brgridiron
⬜️ 17 surgeries
⬜️ Talk of amputation
⬜️ Life-threatening infection
⬜️ Missed two seasons
Tonight, he led Washington to an upset over the undefeated Steelers ? pic.twitter.com/v1udyEPnw8
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 8, 2020
This year’s NFL Comeback Player of the Year award has likely been narrowed down to just two players- Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger. Smith is the odds on favorite to win the award at +250 while Roethlisberger is next in the odds board at +250.It was purely a coincidence that the two quarterbacks faced off on Monday night.
It was easy to make a case for Big Ben. He entered Monday night’s game with 2,800 passing yards and an impressive 25:6 TD/INT ratio. And yes, his Steelers were 11-0. Meanwhile, Smith became the betting favorite just because he is back. Sorry for the word just because Smith made one of the most remarkable comebacks in pro sports history. But his numbers have been mediocre and he has not returned to his old form.
But after the Steelers nearly shut down Washington’s offense in the first half, Smith picked apart the Pittsburgh zone defense in the second half as Washington outscored Pittsburgh 20-3 in the final two quarters of the game. Smith would finish with 296 passing yards on 31-46 passing with one touchdown and no interception in one of the best games since his return. As well as Big Ben has played this season, Smith might have locked up the award on Monday night.
Playoff Race Look Real
Washington’s upset win over the Steelers put them back into a tie for first place in the NFC East, where they now have a real shot at the playoffs. https://t.co/PYCLVz9tac
— Washington Wire (@Washington_Wire) December 8, 2020
The win also improved Washington to 5-7 on the season and put them in a tie with the New York Giants for the lead in the NFC East. With division-mates Dallas and Philadelphia now both at 3-8, the race for the NFC East may be down to the Giants and the Washington Football team.
New York is currently the -135 betting favorite to win the NFC East but Washington is close by at +140. The Giants will finish the season against the Cardinals, Browns, Ravens, and Cowboys. Meanwhile, Washington’s remaining games are against the 49ers, Seahawks, Panthers, and Eagles.
The Giants do hold the tiebreaker over Washington should it come down to that in the division but if Smith returned to play football this season and Washington took down Pittsburgh on Monday, anything can still happen and the NFC East playoff race looks real once again.