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Washington hands Pittsburgh its first loss

Mike Florio and Charean Williams explain what the Jets should do after yet another gut-wrenching loss for all except fans of the franchise, including Bill Cowher's name being bandied about as an Adam Gase replacement.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are no longer undefeated. And the Washington Football Team is in playoff contention.

In a game that the Steelers dominated for the first half but the Football Team took over in the second, Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins made two late field goals and the Football Team won 23-17.

The loss drops the Steelers to 11-1 on the season, and the 1972 Dolphins can pop their champagne. The Football Team improves to 5-7.

The Steelers are now tied with the Chiefs in the race for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and the Football Team is tied with the Giants in the NFC East.

The game saw Alex Smith throw a lot of short, safe passes, and his favorite receivers were Logan Thomas and J.D. McKissic. Smith isn’t playing spectacularly, but he’s playing good, solid football, two years after a horrific leg injury that could have ended his career.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also didn’t hit many big plays downfield, and he didn’t get any help from the running game, which was a complete non-factor against a good Washington defensive line.

The Steelers are still Super Bowl contenders, but their dreams of 16-0 have come to an end, and their path to the Super Bowl gets more precarious if they can’t edge out Kansas City for home-field advantage. Washington is, realistically, not a Super Bowl contender. But the Football Team is absolutely in contention in the NFC East, and Ron Rivera’s team is playing tough football down the stretch.