Washington Steelers Football

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Anthony McFarland (26) carries the ball with Washington Football Team strong safety Kamren Curl (31) defending during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers spent three months flirting with perfection, insisting all the time they were far from flawless.

They weren’t wrong. Pittsburgh’s bid for an unbeaten season is over. Washington’s bid for an unlikely division title may just be beginning.

Alex Smith threw for 296 yards and a touchdown, Dustin Hopkins kicked a tiebreaking 45-yard field goal with 2:04 remaining, and Washington beat the Steelers 23-17 on Monday night.

Pittsburgh (11-1) missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth and dropped into a tie with defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City for the top spot in the AFC with four games remaining. A day after the New York Giants pulled an upset in Seattle, Washington (5-7) kept pace by rallying from 14 points down to win in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1991.

Washington won the Super Bowl that season. The club’s expectations this year are far more modest in Ron Rivera’s first season as coach.

Not so in Pittsburgh, which got off to the best start in the franchise’s 87-year history even as the offense occasionally worked in fits and spurts. In a game pushed back a day due to a COVID-19 outbreak that forced the NFL to re-schedule Baltimore’s annual visit to Heinz Field three times, the little mistakes Pittsburgh managed to get away with for 11 games became too much to overcome.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off by Jon Bostic — a former Steeler — with 1:59 remaining. Hopkins added another 45-yard field goal to help close it out.

Pittsburgh reached midfield on its final possession but time ran out.

Muskogee grad Kamren Curl, starting at strong safety, had a team-high seven solo tackles and eight total tackles.

The rookie out of Arkansas has started the last five games.

Washington is tied with the New York Giants at 5-7 atop the NFC East.

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