Game Ball No. 1: Tight End Logan Thomas
Tight ends coach Pete Hoener felt strongly about Thomas' ability as a budding tight end, and those feelings paid off against the Steelers. Thomas had a career day at Heinz field, as he lead the team with 98 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions.
Thomas had several impactful plays throughout the game. He had a 30-yard reception that helped set up a one-yard touchdown run from Peyton Barber, and he recovered a fumbled that likely would have dashed any hopes of a comeback. But his best play came in the fourth quarter with about nine minutes left. With Washington facing a 1st-and-10 at Pittsburgh's 15-yard line, quarterback Alex Smith quickly threw the ball to Thomas, who was able to make his way into the end zone to deliver to game-tying score.
"Logan just continues to grow," head coach Ron Rivera said after the game. "I know Pete Hoener really felt that this was a guy that was on the verge of taking the next step and so when we got him in free agency, it was one of those things that Coach Pete just felt, 'Hey, here's a guy that we can develop and help him get better,' and he sure has and he's fitting in our offense, just doing a heck of a job."
Game Ball No. 2: Kicker Dustin Hopkins
Hopkins has had his share of issues this season; he's missed a field goal attempt in five games, some of which had costly consequences. But the veteran kicker was perfect against the Steelers, as he drilled all three of his attempts from 40-plus yards.
The first came with just five seconds left in the first half. After Smith and the offense drove down to the Steelers' 31-yard line, Hopkins quickly lined up with the rest of the kicking unit and nailed a 49-yarder to put Washington on the board.
The next came at an even more critical moment. With the score tied, 17-17, Hopkins calmly delivered a 45-yard kick that sailed through the uprights to give Washington its first lead of the game. Then, after the defense came down with an interception, Hopkins hit another 45-yarder to extend Washington's lead from three to six.
"Last week he was perfect, too, so knock on wood it continues," said Rivera. "Sometimes you get into a little bit of a slump. He worked his way out of it and he's been solid. He really has. And just really happy with what he did, again, working himself through his situation and it was a tough field to kick off of today, too."
Game Ball No. 3: Wide Receiver Cam Sims
Sims has started to become one of Washington's more reliable receivers when the offense is in need of a spark, and the former undrafted free agent filled that role again Monday night with five receptions for 92 yards.
Sims first catch of the game -- a 30-yarder that put Washington at the Steelers' 29-yard line -- ultimately led to Hopkins' 49-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Then, with Washington facing a third down at its own 14-yard line, Sims came through again for a 31-yard reception, which helped the team end its drive with a touchdown.
Washington had another third down in the fourth quarter -- this time at its own 44-yard line -- and Sims supplied another big play with a 29-yard catch to keep the chains moving. The possession ended with Washington taking a 20-17 lead.
"A lot of young guys got fight in them, and we got the older guys that are pushing us each and every day," Sims said. "So we just got that fight in us and we ain't going to never let up."