Football Team

Washington was first to expose the Steelers' now obvious flaws

Football Team

While the Steelers were figuring out a way to lose to a 14-point underdog on Monday night, Washington fans were taking a victory lap.

In their minds, their team had, as many put it on Twitter, "broken" Pittsburgh.

That's a bit of a stretch, but you'll get no argument if you want to say that Ron Rivera's club was the first to really take advantage of the once 11-0 squad's flaws that are becoming more and more obvious by the week.

Back on Dec. 7, the Burgundy and Gold went into Heinz Field and hand-delivered Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of that organization their first loss of the season. 

In that showdown, Jack Del Rio's unit played Big Ben's group perfectly. They made the Steelers truly one-dimensional — they ran the ball just 14 times for 21 yards — and flustered Roethlisberger all evening by batting down his passes and making him have to really, really, realllllllly work on every drive. A final key turnover then made the difference.

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On the other side, meanwhile, Alex Smith was his typical patient self, and thanks to what his comrades were doing to his counterpart, he knew he and his offense didn't have to go out and score 30 points. For them, 23 proved to be plenty.

That's how the Bills and Bengals have found success versus the AFC North staple, too. In Pittsburgh's last three outings, they're 28th or worse in the NFL in points per game, yards per game, yards per play and third-down percentage. Buffalo won by double digits while Cincy won by seven, and neither of those two franchises got to 27 on the scoreboard. 

 

Back before Washington's trip to Pennsylvania, NBC analyst Torrey Smith called his old rival the worst undefeated operation he'd ever seen. Then, it was easy to dismiss that as an ex-Raven taking a cheap shot.

Now, however, Smith's claim feels a lot more legitimate, and though it's clear the Steelers have some serious issues, no one had really uncovered them until Washington did. The rest of the AFC should be thankful to them for that.