The Steelers' dreams of an undefeated regular season are history and they'll have to wait at least until this Sunday to clinch a return trip to the postseason following Washington's 23-17 victory this evening at Heinz Field.
Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins' 45-yard field goal with 2:04 left in regulation provided Washington's first lead. The visitors got into position to break a 17-17 tie on a 29-yard completion from quarterback Alex Smith to wide receiver Cam Sims on third-and-4 from the Washington 44-yard line.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted by former Steelers linebacker Jon Bostic on a pass that was tipped by defensive end Montez Sweat on first-and-10 from the Steelers' 25 with 2:04 left in the fourth quarter.
Hopkins added another 45-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers' last-gasp possession started from their 25 and ended with a completion to tight end Eric Ebron that ran out the clock.
"We're not frustrated," cornerback Mike Hilton said. "We just know we gotta play better."
Added quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: "We just need to make plays. I need to deliver us into plays that are best suited for situations. It starts with me. I need to be better."
The 5 p.m. kickoff was the second game in a stretch that includes three in 12 days for the Steelers, who next play this Sunday night in Buffalo.
The Steelers fell to 11-1.
Washington improved to 5-7.
"We just gotta make routine lays routinely," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "We're not making them routinely enough right now."
The Steelers finished with slight edges in total net yards (326-318) and third down conversions (6-for-15, 40 percent to Washington's 4-for-17, 24 percent).
Washington had a slight edge in time of possession (30:26-29:34) after having the ball for just 12:49 in the first two quarters.
Washington moved 53 yards in eight plays midway through the fourth and tied the game at 17-17 on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Smith to tight end Logan Thomas and Hopkins' extra point.
Fill-in kicker Matthew Wright's 37-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth put the Steelers ahead by seven at 17-10. Wright was activated from the practice squad prior to kickoff to replace Chris Boswell (hip).
Washington closed to within 14-10 after receiving the kickoff to open the second half. The visitors used 14 plays to drive 82 yards in 6:44 on a march that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown burst by running back Peyton Barber. Hopkins' extra point drew Washington within four. Washington was able to extend the drive on a 31-yard flanker screen from Smith to Sims on third-and-14 from the Washington 14-yard line. Smith also hooked up with Thomas for a 30-yard gain to the Steelers' 1.
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 13 game against the Washington Football Team at Heinz Field
The Steelers broke the ice early in the second quarter following an opening 15 minutes that saw the two teams combine for six first downs and punt a combined six times.
Roethlisberger capped a 14-play, 72-yard drive in 6:16 with a 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Wright converted the extra point and the Steelers led, 7-0. Running back Benny Snell converted a third-and-1 with a 2-yard gain at the outset of the drive, and Roethlisberger hit Johnson for 17 yards on third-and-12, Ebron for 15 on third-and-6 and wide receiver Chase Claypool for 8 on third-and-7 on the way to the end zone.
The Steelers struck again late in the second on a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown connection from Roethlisberger to wide receiver James Washington. The one-play drive concluded a sequence that saw Snell stopped on fourth-and-goal from the Washington 1 and the Steelers' defense force a three-and-out from the Washington offense. Wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud's 17-yard punt return established possession for the Steelers at midfield.
Wright's second successful extra point made it 14-0 with 3:54 left in the first half.
Washington got on the scoreboard on a 49-yard field goal from Hopkins with one second left before the break. Washington used six plays and drove 28 yards in 49 seconds to close to within 14-3.
Inside linebacker Robert Spillane's sack of Smith in the first quarter extended the Steelers streak of registering at least one sack to an NFL record-tying 69 consecutive games. Tampa Bay established the mark from 1999-2003.
Smith was sacked three times overall, including outside linebacker T.J. Watt's NFL-leading 12th of the season. Watt forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that was recovered by Washington.
The Steelers out-gained Washington 211-114 in the opening 30 minutes, held a 17:11-12:49 edge in time of possession and converted four of nine third downs (44.4 percent) to zero for Washington in eight attempts.
Washington lost rookie running back Antonio Gibson to a toe injury in the first quarter after he'd carried twice and gained 14 yards on the ground.
The Steelers lost Spillane (knee) and cornerback Joe Haden (evaluated for a concussion) in the second half.