PITTSBURGH — The Steelers’ unbeaten streak has ended.
Ben Roethlisberger’s pass in the two-minute drill with Pittsburgh trailing by three was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Washington linebacker Jon Bostic as Washington came into Pittsburgh and knocked off the NFL’s best team, 23-17.
The Steelers had a chance to take the lead after Washington tied the game in the fourth quarter, but head coach Mike Tomlin decided not to attempt a 46-yard field goal with first-game NFL kicker Matthew Wright, who was called up from the practice squad to replaced injured starter Chris Boswell.
Instead, Pittsburgh attempted a 4th and 1 pass, but Roethlisberger’s throw to rookie running back Anthony McFarland Jr. was incomplete.
Washington then took the ball on a nine-play, 45-yard drive that ended with a 45-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to put Washington in the lead for the first and only time in the game.
The big play on that drive was a 25-yard pass from Alex Smith to Cam Sims. Sims was a thorn in the Steelers’ side all evening, making several big plays. He finished with five catches for 92 yards.
Sims also helped set up a controversial field goal at the end of the first half for Washington, which saw the officials stop a running clock in the final 10 seconds of the half for ball placement, allowing Hopkins to put Washington on the board after Pittsburgh had opened up a 14-0 first-half lead.
Washington took the second-half kickoff and went 95 yards over 14 plays, capped by a 1-yard Peyton Barber plunge.
Wright converted from 37 yards to put the Steelers back up by seven, by Smith found wide open tight end Logan Thomas from 15 yards out after another long drive against the Pittsburgh defense to tie things up.
Thomas finished with nine catches for 98 yards and running back J.D. McKissic had 10 catches for 70 as Washington attacked the Steelers’ defense underneath.
Hopkins also converted from 45 yards out after the Roethlisberger interception to give Washington its final margin of victory. The crucial turnover was the only one of the game.
The Steelers out-gained Washington, 326 to 318, but had just 21 yards on the ground and twice could not convert in crucial short-yardage situations.
Now 11-1, the Steelers missed a chance to clinch an NFL playoff spot, but remain the AFC’s No. 1 seed, holding the first tiebreaker with 11-1 Kansas City. Pittsburgh will travel to Buffalo next Sunday for an 8:20 p.m. kickoff.