Washington Ends Pittsburgh's Perfect Season

More sucking.

Jim Rome
December 08, 2020 - 10:21 am
Alex Smith

USA Today

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Washington beat Pittsburgh in the first game of last night’s doubleheader. And if you’re shocked, you shouldn’t be. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin tried to warn y’all last week after Pittsburgh beat the Ravens and he smashed his guys despite the dub. 

Remember last week, when the Steelers beat the Ravens? Yeah, well, no one was less impressed with the Steelers that day, than the coach of the Steelers, that day: 

“I’m really disappointed in our performance tonight. We did enough to win, but that’s all. It was really jayvee, to be quite honest with you, and it was in all three phrases. We couldn’t run the ball effectively when we needed to, we dropped too many significant passes, very catchable, makeable passes. We didn’t make significant plays in the special team game. Our kickoff coverage unit wasn’t good enough. We turned the damn ball over, we gave up big plays in critical moments on defense. Can’t have it. They converted a long run on a possession down before the half. Unacceptable. They had a 70-yard touchdown pass late in the game. Unacceptable.”

That’s a “really jayvee” a “damn ball” and two unacceptable in one answer. That’s one of the all-time great answers from a head coach, but it wasn’t even the best one of his press conference. Because there was more.

“It was just bad by all parties involved. Coaches first, players second. We make no excuses. We seek no comfort. We didn’t play well, coach well tonight.”

And then he left the yard when he was asked what he attributed the team’s red zone struggles to, he had a simple answer: “Us sucking.”

Straight. Freaking. Fire. To quote old man Ritt, FINALLY!! To which I would add, ACCURATE!!  DEAD ON!!  PREACH!  DAMN STRAIGHT! And honestly, I could play the exact same clips again to describe how Pittsburgh showed up yesterday.

There was more jayvee action. They dropped too many significant passes, very catchable, makeable passes. They turned the damn ball over, they gave up big plays in critical moments on defense. And I’m guessing they will make no excuses and seek no comfort.  If Tomlin were asked what he’d attribute all those freaking drops to, I can almost guarantee his response would be, US SUCKING! 

And while the 1972 Dolphins can celebrate, I’m not sure the Steelers are too bothered about not going undefeated. It was never about that: the 72 dolphins had nothing sweat, because Steelers obviously weren’t as good as that 11-0 mark indicated, and really interest in running the table: their only is interest is in maintaining that top seed; in beating back Kansas for the top seed, not in beating back the 72 dolphins. They didn’t give a damn about that. The ring is the thing, not running the table.

But rather than make this all about what the Steelers didn’t do, how about something for what Washington did. And more specifically, what Ron Rivera and Alex Smith have done this year. Because that is the most impressive and inspirational combination of head coach and quarterback on a 5-7 team you’re ever going to see.

The head coach battling cancer and the quarterback who came back after nearly having his leg amputated. And they’ve somehow won three straight games, including coming back from down 14-0 in to beat the team with the best record in the league. That’s some Hollywood bleep right there.

And that comeback started with a moment of genius, or accidental genius, from Smith. Washington got the ball back with less than a minute to go in the first half. They start driving and then have to call their final timeout with 24 seconds left. It’s now 3rd and 16 from the Pittsburgh 24. The only thing that cannot happen now is for Smith to take a sack.

And a ref’s announcement of a “administrative issue”?

That “administrative issue”? Yeah, that administrative issue was that they couldn’t find a ball to use for the field goal. And the reason for that might have something to do with the fact that Smith jogged off to the sideline with the football after he was sacked.

That “administrative issue” forced the refs to stop the clock, they found a “k” ball and Washington kicked the field goal. Freaking genius. That is one of the smartest plays in the history of football. Maybe the history of sports.

Smith said after the game that “it was not intentional.”

Neither was the discovery of penicillin and that worked out pretty well for everyone.

Take a victory lap for that one, Alex. Because it was pure genius.

And no, of course the refs shouldn’t have stopped the clock to find a ball. They should’ve noted that Washington was the one who caused the delay and should not be rewarded for it. But that’s on the refs, not Washington.

And even if the refs did hand Washington three points at the end of the first half, they didn’t hurt the Steelers as much as the Steelers hurt the Steelers.

I get that they’ve been jammed numerous times with schedule changes that weren’t of their doing. I get that they were coming off a short week. And that the football team had 11 teams to get ready for this. I also get that the Steelers were unbeaten, had a 14 point lead, are battling for that top seed, and couldn’t finish. Couldn’t catch the ball? Couldn’t run the ball. Really do much of anything, less than a week after playing a similarly uninspired game and getting lit up by t heir coach for it. It’s a long year: that’ll happen: you won’t have your best every single week. But then they did it again after saying they would fix it. Hey Steeler fan, I wouldn’t’ be as concerned about the yellow flags as much as I would be the red flags if I were you.

Red flags like you really can’t catch the ball. Or run the ball. And you didn’t’ play as hard as the opponent: that’s a helluva way to go through life. Putting the ball on the ground, running into brick walls and not caring as much as the guy you’re lining up against: that’s a recipe for defeat. And that’s why they lost.

But again, this is as much about what Washington could do as what Pittsburgh didn’t do. Because Washington came back from down 14-0 before halftime to tie it up in the fourth, then take the lead, and then ice it with a pick.

They added a bonus field goal to make it 23-17 and then partied in the locker room. Rivera said the mood after the game was “euphoria.”

"These guys deserve it. We've been down for such a long time, and we're trying to rebuild ourselves and build up. This is something we can build off of."

They do deserve it. And nobody deserves it more than Rivera and Smith. Two of the toughest, classiest, and best guys in the NFL. Nothing but respect for both of them.  and nothing but disrespect for the guys who keep putting it on the ground for the Steelers: because the only worse than seeing ben Roethlisberger dink and dunk his way all the way down the field is seeing his guys drop those dinks and dunks all freaking game.