The Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t keep the win streak alive but they could keep the streak of not winning a game in Oakland since 1995 in tact. The Steelers dropped to 2-5 on the year after they were defeated by the Oakland Raiders 21-18. Playing in the “black hole” proved to be too difficult of a task for this Steelers’ team.
Although the list of why the Steelers lost could go on forever, I’ll keep it to four reasons…
4. The Offensive Line continues to dwindle
The offensive line for the Steelers has been issue all season long. In the last couple games they’ve played well enough to keep Ben Roethlisberger from taking a lot of heat but against the Raiders they were up to there old tricks. The offensive line allowed Roethlisberger to be sacked five times on the day.
Along with not performing well, the Steelers’ offensive line was bit by the injury bug they’re so familiar with.
Early in the game the Steelers lost Ramone Foster to a concussion. His replace, Guy Whimper came in only to exit the game with a left knee injury. The Steelers were forced to put in Cody Wallace while moving Mike Adams to left tackle. That wasn’t the last of the injuries; David DeCastro went down with a right ankle injury.
All of these player’s injuries will be evaluated further. If they are in fact serious, the Steelers line is in (even more) serious trouble.
3. Sure Thing, No More
Steelers’ kicker, Shaun Suisham was proving to be the team’s most dependable player. Coming into the matchup against Oakland, Suisham was a perfect 14 for 14 on the season. Suisham was also coming off a four-for-four performance against the Baltimore Ravens last week, a game in which he nailed a game-winning 42-yarder to lift the Steelers over the Ravens. After that performance Suisham was named AFC Special Team’s Player of the Week.
Apparently being “that good” went to Suisham’s head because the clutch kicker found himself shanking kicks in Oakland. Suisham missed two chip shots that would’ve been extremely beneficial to the Steelers toward the end of the game. Suishams perfect record is shattered along with the belief that he’s a sure thing.
Even though Suisham should’ve made those kicks, he can’t take all the blame. The Steelers were depending too much on their kicker, settling for field goals in the red zone instead of touchdowns came back to haunt the black and gold. Their dependable kicker choked and it cost them six points but life would’ve been a whole lot easier if the Steelers could just find the six points by putting the ball in the end zone.
2. Help Wanted
When it comes to being clutch, some teams have what it takes. The Pittsburgh Steelers are not one of those teams.
Despite pulling off a victory last week over Baltimore, the Steelers couldn’t get the job done after crawling their way back into the game against the Raiders.
The Steelers probably should’ve lost the game by three touchdowns rather than three points. By some kind of miracle the Steelers were able to find themselves in the ball game late in the fourth quarter. The Raiders managed to cough up the ball several times, inviting the Steelers to make a comeback.
The Steelers didn’t accept the open invite because “clutchness” just isn’t in their vocabulary, at least not this season. A prime example came on a crucial third and long play where Roethlisberger delivered a perfect strike to wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown appeared to have snagged the ball but it popped out of his hands as he was forced out of bounds. Now I don’t expect the Steelers’ receivers to be perfect, not even Calvin Johnson is perfect (pretty close though), but to make that grab and convert on that third down was crucial for the Steelers and they couldn’t come up with it.
I have said time after time that Roethlisberger is an underrated quarterback and he is. He’s does everything he can to get this offense into rhythm but has little help surrounding him. Sometimes Big Ben makes a dumb play or two but when there’s no help from the line and your receivers can’t come up with big-time plays then you have to try and make the plays yourself. It’s a shame to watch a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback play with questionable play calls and inconsistent linemen and receivers.
1. It’s the Little Things
There were many points in the game where Steeler Nation could’ve reached their breaking point. Mine came right before the Steelers punched it in to make the game a three point deficit. The Steelers were in the red zone in good position to score but they managed to burn one of their three timeouts they had remaining. Roethilsberger claims that it was due to the refs taking too much time to spot the ball, so the play clock was running out which left them no choice but to call a time out.
After burning the timeout, the Steelers handed it off to Le’Veon Bell who ran it in for the score. After the touchdown run, Emmanuel Sanders ran the ball in to tack on two more points to bring the Steelers within three.
However, that timeout they used came back to haunt them. Instead of being able to kick the ball away hoping the defense, who had been playing pretty sound a this point in the game, can hold the Raiders run game in check for three downs, call three timeouts and save as much clock as possible, they couldn’t do this; no the Steelers had to go for the onside kick.
The onside kick bounced right into the lap of the Raiders and they managed to milk the clock all the way down to around 30 seconds when the Steelers finally got the ball back.
At that point, pinned deep in their own territory, the Steelers were out of time to do anything. Thus, ending the game and quite possibly the Steelers hopes of salvaging this season.
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