For the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Week 13 matchup with the Washington Football Team has a few traits typically found in a "trap game."
Washington gets 10 days of rest to Pittsburgh's four, and the Steelers are coming off a big game against the Baltimore Ravens -- which can take a lot out of a team -- with a contest against the Buffalo Bills awaiting in Week 14. ESPN's Max Kellerman saw that as a chance for Washington, a team that has played better in recent weeks, to sneak up on Pittsburgh.
That was until the Steelers played the Ravens on Wednesday.
“Now on a short week, they are facing a defense that’s played better and better, a team that has played better and better as it goes on. As I brought up, what does RC [Ryan Clark] tell us? Play the Ravens or Steelers the week after they play each other," Kellerman said on ESPN's First Take. "This was a dangerous game. Short week after a Ravens game. A very losable game, a real trap game. Not anymore, not anymore.”
The reason Kellerman no longer believes the Steelers are at risk for overlooking its Week 13 opponent is because of how they performed on Wednesday afternoon. They picked up a 19-14 win to advance to 11-0, but it was anything but pretty.
Pittsburgh had numerous dropped passes, a few bad turnovers and was inefficient in the red zone against a Baltimore team that was missing numerous starters due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Head coach Mike Tomlin went as far as to call it a "junior varsity" showing from his team.
Therefore, Kellerman feels the last thing the Steelers will do is relax ahead of a game against Washington. They need to correct problems and demonstrate that they are better than what they displayed on Wednesday, no matter the opponent. A convincing win over Baltimore could have allowed Washington to come in under the radar. That's not happening anymore.
Former Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor sees the same thing. Knowing what Tomlin preaches from his time in Pittsburgh, and from seeing what quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had to say after the game, Taylor understands just how focused the team will be ahead of its meeting with Washington.
“Last night I heard Big Ben say, man they got a meeting tonight. After the game they had a meeting," Taylor said on the Washington Football Talk Podcast. "So that’s letting me know they’re wired in.”
"So basically you’re telling me you can brainwash your team to be like, we’re going whatever. wherever. Don’t matter if we playing three games in twelve days or four games in eight," Taylor said. "We’re going to find a way and we’re going to win.”
Taylor is of the belief that the Steelers aren't a team that is going to overlook any opponent or fall into a "trap game." He feels that the Washington Football Team is better than its record, with a talented defense and some weapons on offense, and a few close losses make things look worse than they are.
Taylor has a feeling Tomlin is saying the same thing to his players to make sure they don't underestimate the upcoming opponent.
“I guarantee you that’s exactly what Coach T is saying. ‘Hey man, it’s been a quarterback carousel, let’s not sleep on their defense. But other than that, they’re a good team. We can’t take this team for granted or lightly,'" Taylor said. "That’s what the Pittsburgh Steelers have been doing well this year, they’re not taking anybody for granted or lightly.”
During his time with the Steelers, Taylor explained that the mentality was to always focus on what was directly in front of them. No matter who it was or what adversity came before or after it, the group was locked into the present challenge.
That doesn't change with Washington, and the poor performance against the Ravens only heightens it.
"The biggest task is the Washington Team," Taylor said. "You gotta prepare for the Washington Team.”
“I don’t think those guys want to play like that again…so they’re going to be well prepared or better prepared than they was last night against the Baltimore Ravens," Taylor said.