Football Team

WFT's win over Steelers didn't end MNF curse, but it's a start

Football Team

Anyone who has followed the Washington Football Team over the past 12 years is familiar with the franchise's struggles in primetime games, particularly those played on Mondays.

Entering this week's matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington had lost 16 of their last 18 games played on a Monday. That's a .110 winning percentage.

But in the year 2020, when nothing is the least bit normal, the same goes for Washington and their games played on Mondays. The Burgundy and Gold turned in an inspiring performance on this specific Monday, which ended in a 23-17 upset victory over the previously undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.

So, after Washington's win over Pittsburgh, did they put their Monday Night Football curse to rest?

Well, not so fast. 

To begin, Washington's game against Pittsburgh wasn't technically even a Monday Night Football game. The contest began at 5 o'clock eastern, meaning most people were just getting off work by kickoff.

Monday Early Afternoon Football? Sure. Monday Night Football? Not quite.

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Playing on Monday Night Football usually means there is a national audience watching. But for Washington's game against Pittsburgh, the matchup was only shown in less than 50% of markets nationwide.

Sure, more eyes were able to watch the game than if it had been played when it was originally scheduled (Sunday, 1 p.m.), but it's likely far fewer eyeballs were tuned into this game than the league's true Monday nighter, 49ers-Bills on ESPN.

 

Let's also not forget that football in 2020 has mostly consisted of playing in an empty stadium, which was the case once again on Monday at Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh's home stadium is usually one of the toughest places to play on an annual basis, as the sight of nearly 70,000 Terrible Towels being waved is as intimidating as any venue in the league. There's a reason Washington had never won in Heinz Field before.

Without the raucous crowd cheering on Pittsburgh, Washington didn't have to deal with what most visiting teams do when they play the Steelers on the road. More teams are winning on the road this season than average and no home crowds have plenty to do with it.

All of these factors can be used as reasons why Washington's victory over Pittsburgh wasn't a true ending to the team's Monday Night Football curse.

But on the other hand, the victory was also a start of Washington turning the corner when it comes to playing well in big games.

Washington had nearly double the amount of rest the Steelers did, but they also had to alter its weekly schedule on the fly after the game was postponed. Weekly routines are a big thing in the NFL and Washington's was thrown off slightly by the change.

On Sunday, Washington watched the New York Giants upset in the Seattle Seahawks on the road. New York would move to 5-7 after the win, putting a ton of pressure on Washington entering Monday to keep pace for the division lead.

When you consider the Giants victory from the day prior and the pressure of facing an undefeated team, Monday's matchup certainly had the weight of a typical Monday Night Football game for Washington. 

Yet, Washington took the challenge and ran with it. Now, they leave the Steel City with their third consecutive win and one of their biggest wins of the past decade.

Breaking it all down, no, Monday's victory over Pittsburgh didn't put away Washington's Monday Night Football struggles. 

But, when you consider Washington's impressive win over the Steelers coming just one week after their Thanksgiving blowout over Dallas, the Burgundy and Gold are starting to win games they would so often lose over the past couple of decades.

Sure, the circumstances were atypical, but that shouldn't take away the fact that Washington just knocked off the best team in football, and at their place, nonetheless.

No moment is too big for this Ron Rivera coached bunch. And if Washington continues to play how they did against Pittsburgh, the proverbial Monday Night Football monkey on their back won't be there much longer.