The unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers closed as six-point home favorites for late Monday afternoon’s game vs. Washington. The Steelers were on a short week after beating the Ravens last Wednesday afternoon, 19-14.
Mike Tomlin’s team entered the game 11-0 straight up and 8-3 against the spread. Meanwhile, Washington (4-7 SU, 6-5 ATS) came to Heinz Field with three wins in its five previous games, but its only victories all season had come over Philadelphia, Dallas (twice) and Cincinnati.
Nevertheless, a bettor at FanDuel in Indiana was bullish on the six-point underdog. He or she wasn’t getting the best of the line, either, as FanDuel had Washington at +8.5 on Thursday and +7 or +6.5 at various points early Sunday.
Whatever the case, the gambler who put $500,000 on Washington +6 wasn’t looking great late in the second quarter. Pittsburgh had taken a 14-0 advantage on a pair of Ben Roethlisberger touchdown passes.
Washington was driving in the final minute of the second stanza, advancing into the red zone to Pittsburgh’s 17 with 35 seconds left. But on a second-and-nine play, veteran quarterback Alex Smith was sacked by T.J. Watt for a seven-yard loss, forcing Ron Rivera to burn his final timeout with 24 ticks remaining.
On the next play, Smith was sacked again by Stephon Tuitt for another seven-yard loss. Facing fourth down, spiking the ball wasn’t an option, so the field-goal team had to rush onto the field. It was able to do so just in time, as Dustin Hopkins buried a 49-yarder with one second remaining to cut the deficit to 11 at halftime.
Washington got the ball to start the second half and promptly marched down the field 82 yards on 14 plays, with Peyton Barber capping the drive with a one-yard TD run.
The drive nearly ended one play before. Washington had failed to gain a yard on three consecutive plays from Pittsburgh’s 1. On first-and-goal from the 1, J.D. McKissic was stuffed for no gain. Then Smith threw back-to-back incompletions into the end zone.
On fourth and goal, Smith threw incomplete again, but Washington was given a new set of downs when Watt was flagged for defensive holding. Barber found paydirt on the next play to trim the deficit to 14-10.
On the first play of the final stanza, Pittsburgh went back ahead of the number by taking a 17-10 lead on a 39-yard field goal from Matthew Wright, who was promoted to the active roster to fill in for injured kicker Chris Boswell.
After both teams traded three and outs, Washington pulled even with an eight-play, 53-yard TD drive that was capped by Smith’s 15-yard scoring strike to Logan Thomas.
With 4:53 remaining, Pittsburgh turned down a chance for a potential go-ahead 45-yard field goal on a fourth-and-one play. Roethlisberger’s pass to RB Anthony McFarland fell incomplete and Washington had its second fourth-and-one stop of the day.
Washington took its first lead nine plays later on a 45-yard field goal from Hopkins with 2:07 left. On Pittsburgh’s first play from scrimmage on its next drive, a Roethlisberger pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by LB Jon Bostic (From? Florida Gators!).
After the Steelers burned all of their timeouts, Hopkins was true again from 45 yards out with 17 seconds remaining.
The clock ran out on Pittsburgh after two plays and Washington collected its third consecutive win. The club pulls into a first-place tie with the New York Giants atop of the NFC East standings with identical 5-7 records.
However, the Giants swept the season series from Washington with wins in East Rutherford (20-19) and D.C. (23-20), so New York essentially owns a one-game lead in the division race.
Most important for our purposes, one Indiana gambler won $471,698.11 after risking one-half million on Washington +6. Congrats to him or her!