Ben Roethlisberger on James Washington's Drop vs. Broncos: 'He Has to Make It'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) talks with wide receiver James Washington (13) at practice during NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018 . (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington may be a rookie, but teammate Ben Roethlisberger still wasn't inclined to cut him any slack.

Speaking with 93.7 FM The Fan in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger criticized Washington's drop in the third quarter of Sunday's 24-17 defeat to the Denver Broncos.

"He has to make it," the Steelers quarterback said (h/t the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Joe Rutter). "I just think he didn't trust his hands. For some reason, he jump/dove. I'm not really sure what he was doing. We look at it (on film), and coach got on him pretty good yesterday. We took a long, hard look at it. James needs to run through that, and it's a touchdown."

With 4:40 left in the third quarter, Roethlisberger targeted Washington on a deep throw down the right. Washington nearly completed an acrobatic grab but lost control of the ball as he hit the ground.

The Checkdown @thecheckdown

Would have been INSANE. https://t.co/d8w93oixoc

After the game, he told reporters he thought diving was his best option to try to complete the catch.

"Honestly I felt like I had to dive because it was just a weird adjustment," Washington said, per PennLive.com. "So I felt like I had to. It was just kind of over the outside shoulder and my body wasn't in position to catch it on the run like that."

In the moment, many agreed with Roethlisberger's general assessment.

Jon Ledyard @LedyardNFLDraft

That James Washington drop...why are you even diving bud? Just bizarre. Ball was right in stride. Don’t have to leave your feet

Steelers Wire @TheSteelersWire

Romo saying overthrown. Looked fine to me. Washington takes an unnecessary dive and that's that. Drive stalls a play later at #Steelers punt back to #Broncos. Tied 17-17

Tim Benz @TimBenzPGH

Went at the new guy twice in a row after the injury. Good idea. Still not sure why Washington went into a dive for that one. Looked like he could've run under it.

If Washington stays on his feet and brings that pass down, then he's likely running free to the end zone and putting the Steelers ahead. Instead, Pittsburgh punted two plays after Washington's drop, and the score remained tied at 17.

While Washington's drop wasn't the sole reason the Steelers lost, the mistake was somewhat costly in retrospect. 

Pittsburgh's next three drives ended in a fumble, a punt and Roethlisberger's interception with 1:03 remaining. A touchdown from Washington wouldn't have guaranteed victory with so much time left in the second half, but it would have undoubtedly changed the complexion of the game.