The Washington Football Team trails the Pittsburgh Steelers, 14-3, at halftime. Here are three quick hits from the first two quarters.
1. Washington Has Played Solid On Defense
Washington knew it was going to have a tough challenge on both sides of the ball against the Steelers. And while it does trail by two scores, the defense has played well overall.
The unit made a statement in the opening minutes of the first quarter when it limited the Steelers to back-to-back three-and-outs. The score was tied at zero at the start of the second quarter, and at one point, Washington held Pittsburgh to eight rushing yards on five carries.
The biggest play came with Washington backed up on its own 1-yard line. The defense made a goal line stand with Chase Young making a diving save to bring down Benny Snell.
Washington will need to make more plays like that if it wants to stay in the game; it still gave up a 50-yard catch-and-run that led to James Washington that led to Pittsburgh taking a 14-0 lead. But for the most part, it has risen to the challenge.
2. Offense And Special Teams Have Been Sloppy
Washington had 11 days between its Thanksgiving rout and the Steelers' game, and that extra rest resulted in sloppiness throughout the first half.
Rookies Khaleke Hudson and James Smith-Williams committed penalties on special teams, while tight end Jeremy Sprinkle could not fall on a fumble with no one around him. Wide receivers Steven Sims Jr. and Isaiah Wright dropped passes from Alex Smith, who is 15-of-22 passing for 122 yards.
Even the defense, which put forth a valiant effort over the first two quarters, gave up a 50-yard touchdown that gave Pittsburgh a 14-0 lead with about four minutes left in the half. The unit has now given up eight plays of at least 50 yards this season, and all of them have come in the first half.
If Washington is able to come back, it will be because it limited its mistakes in all phases after intermission.
3. Antonio Gibson Leaves With Toe Injury
The injury occurred on Gibson's second carry during Washington's second drive. After showing good vision and burst to pick up 13 yards, the third-round rookie limped to the sideline. The trainers proceeded to wrap up his left foot, and soon after the team announced that his return was doubtful.
The injury is a significant loss for Washington's offense. Gibson is currently tied for third in the NFL with 11 touchdowns, eight of which gave come in the past five games. He has also rushed for at least 94 yards in three of the past five contests (all wins).
In his absence, veteran Peyton Barber had three rushes for four yards.