Washington Football Team @ Pittsburgh Steelers (23-17 Washington)
Mike The Ace @TheAceWriter
How about that NFC East? The NFL thought it saw the upset of the season on Sunday, when the New York Giants beat the Seattle Seahawks with Colt McCoy at quarterback. The real upset of the season would happen on Monday afternoon, as the undefeated Steelers would take their first loss of the season.
This game featured two of the best defenses in the NFL, and both defensive units showed up in this one. The first half of this game wasn’t very exciting. Washington’s offense struggled early, and it seemed like the Steelers defensive pressure would be too much to handle. Washington managed just 55 yards of offense in the first half.
The Steelers offense was also struggling, but they were able to find a big play in the first half that would extend their lead. Wide receiver James Washington caught a curl route from Ben Roethlisberger, and took it to the crib for a 50-yard touchdown. That play almost felt like the nail in the coffin, as the Steelers seemed to be locked in defensively. Pittsburgh held a 14-3 lead at the half, despite several missed opportunities.
Washington punched back to start the second half. Alex Smith was able to connect on several big throws, and Washington put together a 14-play, 82-yard scoring drive. Washington capped the long drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Peyton Barber.
Washington’s defense was terrific all night. Their defense put pressure on the Steelers’ offensive line, stuffing the run and getting after the quarterback. Pittsburgh’s running game was nonexistent from start to finish. The running attack ended the night with just 14 carries for 21 yards, an average of 1.5 yards per carry. The short passing game has been a staple of the Steelers’ offense all season, but they’ve also been able to combine that with the running attack.
The short passing game found some success in the second half, but dropped passes plagued the Steelers’ receiving core. If the Steelers will be moving forward with such a pass heavy attack, they cannot afford to have six drops like they did on Monday night.
Despite the dropped passes, and poor running game, the Steelers had an opportunity to take the lead. The game was tied 17-17 and they were facing a 4th & 1 with just under 5 minutes left in the game. With the ball on their opponent’s 29-yard line, head coach Mike Tomlin decided to go for the conversion. Roethlisberger was unable to connect with his receiver, and they turned the ball over on downs.
Washington went on the attack offensively, and worked the ball into field goal range for the go-ahead field goal. Kicker Dustin Hopkins connected on the 45-yarder to put Washington ahead. Ben Roethlisberger would throw an interception on the first play of the following drive, and the game was virtually over.
The Steelers took their first loss of the season to a good defensive team. Their offense never really got off the ground, and the dropped passes are a cause for concern. They will have an even tougher test next week against the Buffalo Bills.
Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans (41-35 Browns)
When looking at this match up, these two teams are pretty similar. They both have a good defense and great running schemes. Each team also has great running backs with Derrick Henry and the two headed monster of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt respectively. These teams also have above average, game managing quarterbacks. We are hearing that this year’s Cleveland Browns are last year’s version of the Tennessee Titans. The Browns beat the Titans at their own game today, as they continue to chase that coveted wild card spot.
Baker Mayfield had a game, going 25-33 for 334 yards and 4 TDs. I’ve watched him play most of his snaps since his days at Texas Tech. When Mayfield got to Oklahoma, he ran the Lincoln Riley offense to perfection. He was always so accurate. I always saw him as a sort of poor man’s Drew Brees. This game reminded me of what I used to see in those days. Surprisingly, the Browns only ran for a combined 118 yards below their 156 yard a game average. After the Browns kicked a field goal on the first drive, Mayfield threw touchdown passes on each of the next four possessions. There was a little help from the Titans as well, because of a lost fumble near mid-field, during their second drive.
Ryan Tannehill had a crazy game. The stats don’t tell the story because (unfortunately) the game was over before it started. He went 29-45 with 389 yards, 3 TDs and an interception. Most of those yards, and all of the touchdowns, were in the second half. Tannehill was under duress all day. He was sacked 3 times, and was hit 5 times. In the second half, he tried to lead a furious comeback, but threw an interception late in the third quarter. His receivers also struggled to get separation, and Browns cornerback M.J.Stewart had an amazing game with 2 tackles, 2 pass defenses and an interception. The Browns beat a legit team today, and continue to hold the top wild card spot in the AFC. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski has really turned the team around with his offense.
Normally we would be talking about Nick Chubb or Hunt, but Baker had a great game. He has really taken some slack for not playing up to his number-one-pick potential. This just proves that he is the right fit in Cleveland, but he just needed better guidance and a little more help from a balanced run game. That’s why I think Browns coach Kevin Stefanski should be in the running for Coach of the Year. The Titans had an embarrassing loss, and needed to do something with their pass defense in this game. They are currently ranked as 28th in the league, and Mike Vrabel needs to make a change, or else they will fall out of the tight AFC wild card playoff race.