The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers played their second game doubling as an after-school special on Monday when they hosted Washington Football Team for a 5 p.m. kickoff that was absolutely as weird as it sounds (and only on TV for half the country). The Steelers continued to play brutal, dominant football while Washington continues an aimless season with a starting quarterback who nearly lost one of his legs two years ago and required dozens of surgeries to continue his career.
That journey was a bit terrifying on Monday evening, then admittedly, it got pretty funny. Nearing halftime and already trailing, Smith suddenly appeared to have an extremely bloody leg after a lineman cleated his shin, requiring some medical attention.
Alex Smith bleeding around his left ankle. He appeared to be "cleated" on previous drive. It is not his surgically repaired leg. pic.twitter.com/0nUNky71GZ
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 7, 2020
As many noted, it was not his surgically-repaired leg that was bleeding. But any sort of blood in an NFL game is upsetting, especially when it looks to be that abundant. Smith left the field but apparently was OK, because after the Steelers made it 14-0 he regained possession of the Washington offense and led a drive down the field late.
Unfortunately, however, two straight sacks with the clock winding down put the Football Team in the position of having to rush off the field on fourth down for a frantic field goal attempt. That is, until Smith did a very savvy thing: he took the ball he was just tackled with off the field with him. And in the chaos of the end-of-half scramble, the person responsible for the K balls wasn’t ready to put one in play for Washington to kick.
Alex Smith runs off with the ball causing an “administrative issue” and stopping the clock to give Washington (+6.5) time to kick
— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) December 7, 2020
Because Smith took the ball, officials didn’t have anything to spot and had to stop the clock. The clock briefly read zeroes, but officials stayed there was an “administrative issue” and explained there was no ball, which meant they had to reset the clock to 0:08, then blow the whistle to let Football Team attempt a much-calmer field goal.
With things more settled, they kicked the field goal to go into the half down 14-3. It was a bizarre scene, and one that rightfully had Steelers fans up in arms. It was entirely unclear if Washington could have even gotten set for a field goal, let alone gotten one off and even then, a kicker under pressure with a ticking clock makes for a much harder field goal than one with eight seconds to pull off.
feels like "if you leave the field with the football, we'll stop the clock for you" is a loophole we should've known about earlier
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) December 7, 2020
Call it a savvy veteran move if you may, but it certainly was a weird sequence in what was already a weird game for a lot of other reasons.