Time of death was 4:02 P.M.
That was when a desperate last second Hail Mary attempt hit Limas Sweed in the worst possible place – his hands – and fell harmlessly to the turf, dooming the Pittsburgh Steelers to their fourth consecutive loss. The Oakland Raiders, who came in as a two touchdown underdog, handed the defending Super Bowl champs a stunning 27-24 defeat. This loss effectively ends the Steelers season. While technically there are four games left and technically there is a complicated series of events which would still land Pittsburgh in the playoffs, it’s time to take off the Black and Gold colored glasses. This is not a playoff caliber team.
In fact, right now this team isn’t very good period.
Let’s once again start at the beginning. Which is actually appropriate because how the game started was a perfect example of everything they’ve done wrong this year. The Steelers finally got something positive from their special teams when Stefan Logan took the opening kickoff back 83 yards. Facing the worst run defense in the NFL, what do you think we did? Go on, take a wild guess.
If you said, “Came out in a four WR/no RB passing formation” give yourself a cookie.
Naturally, we threw on two of our first three offensive plays. All plays in the red zone, mind you. And naturally these two passes, with a token run sandwiched in between, netted us a grand total of five yards. So naturally we ended up settling for a Skippy Reed FG. That’s the Bruce Arians way.
The ensuing kickoff was short as all of Skippy’s kicks were yesterday. Evidently, the Steelers new plan for covering kicks is to semi-pooch it and just hope somebody makes a tackle. In this case, Gary Russell (yes, the ex-Steeler whose best return move seemed to be “catch the ball and dive straight ahead”) eluded two or three Steelers for a 34 yard return. The Raiders managed to get a Sebastian Janikowski FG out of the ensuing drive.
In the second quarter, the Steelers struck in lightning fashion. Ben Roethlisberger lasered a ball down the middle to his frenemy Hines Ward for a 27 yard gain. On the very next play, he dropped a beautiful pass over Santonio Holmes‘ right shoulder for a 34 yard touchdown. Two plays, 61 yards, fifty-seven seconds.
But once again, the Raiders showed they weren’t going down without a fight. Pittsburgh native QB Bruce Gradkowski directed a 53 yard drive that would end up milking over five minutes off the clock. He started with a 16 yard pass to Zach Miller. Then they were gifted 15 more yards when Lawrence Timmons face-masked Gradkowski on a blitz. The biggest play was a 22 yard pass to Johnny Lee Higgins where… I’ll let you guess what cornerback got his feet twisted up and blew the coverage. The Raiders made it all the way to the Steelers 26 but were held to a FG thanks to idiotic playcalling on behalf of Oakland. Gee, let’s have our RB try to throw a TD pass!!!
Halftime came with the score 10-6. Now, what I haven’t mentioned yet is the Steelers should have had about 28 points at this point. I already explained how the first drive was a failure. Later in the first quarter, Arians discovered that the Raiders had a terrible run defense because he actually called a few rushing plays. I think cavemen took less time to discover the wheel. Rashard Mendenhall (20 carries 103 yards) took a handoff and rumbled 60 yards. His next three carries only netted 9 and 3/4 yards to the Oakland 5.
So Mike Tomlin decided to channel his inner Belichick and go for it. The call? A quarterback sneak by Roethlisberger. No, don’t give the ball to your 235 pound #1 draft pick RB. Don’t give the ball to multi-time 1,000 yard rusher Fast Willie Parker. Don’t give it to usually dependable Mewelde Moore. Ask your recently concussed quarterback to dive headfirst into a solid wall of humanity. Yeah, that’s what you want to do.
To add insult to stupidity, the Raiders stopped Ben in his tracks. Turnover on downs. But that wasn’t the only failure Big Ben was to experience on Sunday. In the second quarter, the Steelers went back to their Flying Circus (against the worst rush defense in the NFL, did I mention that yet?) They managed to work the ball all the way down to the Oakland 16. At which time, Ben decided to throw into triple coverage and was predictably picked off.
So let’s recap this tremendous display of first half offensive firepower by Bruce Arians, Ben Roethlisberger, the guy who thinks Ben is a sissy, the Dirk Diggler lookalike, and some other guys who barely ever touch the ball. First down at the Oakland 18. Field goal. First down at the Oakland 14. Turnover on downs. First down at the Oakland 16. Interception.
ARE YOU F#@KING KIDDING ME?!?!?
The second half started and out of nowhere Arians decided to impersonate a competent offensive coordinator. He gave the Raiders a steady dose of Mendenhall which served to control the clock. At one point, Mendy ran the ball on five consecutive plays and I began to believe in alien abduction. By controlling the time of possession and keeping the defense off the field, the Steelers effectively ran out the quarter without any points being scored.
Then came the fourth quarter where the game became the live-action equivalent of Madden Football. Oakland started with a nice 11 play 67 yard touchdown drive which put them ahead 13-10. Another good kickoff return by Logan was followed by a 57 yard bomb to Holmes. Mendenhall bulled his way in to the end zone from 3 yards out. Then, in an absolutely stunning display of ineptitude, the secondary completely blew the coverage in allowing somebody named Louis Murphy to get wide open for a 75 yard touchdown pass.
A SEVENTY-FIVE YARD TOUCHDOWN PASS. Thrown by Bruce Gradkowski. Caught by Louis Murphy. Yes, the Origami Curtain was alive and well.
Ike Taylor was the man who was roasted like a chestnut over an open fire on the play although I don’t know if he was entirely to blame. Don’t get me wrong, Ike had an awful game but it definitely looked like he was expecting a safety to be out there with him. Considering Tyrone Carter and Ryan Clark were out of position or missing tackles all day long, missing an assignment is definitely within the realm of possibility.
Ben answered by leading the Steelers 80 yards on 7 plays, tossing a go-ahead TD to Hines. Hines actually got away with one because he facemasked the CB to get wide open on his fade route. After the kickoff, the Raiders found themselves at their 12 yard line with two minutes left in the game. And being down 24-20, they had to score a TD. In the bag, right?
Oh, dear readers, no lead is safe with the Origami Curtain. They had only just begun to fold. The first calamity occurred on a 19 yard pass to Murphy. William Gay had him wrapped up but Ryan Mundy attempted to spear him for good measure. Instead, he ended up taking out his own man. Now, I’m clearly not a fan of Will.i.am. Some might even call me a Gay Basher. But I want to see him on the bench for the right reason, because he sucks, not because of injury. Thankfully, he walked off the field although apparently did suffer a concussion.
No word on whether Hines considers him a sissy.
Anyway, out of the oven came rookie Joe Burnett to take his place. He immediately showed us all that he’d fit in PERFECTLY with this secondary by dropping an INT that hit him right in the chest. As soon as that happened, I knew the game was lost. But, like when you slow down as you pass a car crash, I kept watching to see how the inevitable end would come.
I soon had my answer. On the very next play, Gradkowski threw up a duck that hung in the air like a punt. I mean, it must’ve floated up there for a good four or five seconds. Mitch Berger didn’t kick’em that high. While three other Steelers stood around with thumbs up their asses, Louis Murphy outjumped Burn Me Ike to come down with a 23 yard gain. Do these guys know you can push a receiver out of bounds? Do they care?
On the next play, Mundy decided he wanted to spear an Oakland player instead. Unfortunately, the WR was already down when he came flying in. So his stupidity cost the Steelers 15 more yards on a personal foul. Not content with taking out our starting CB then cheapshotting an opponent, Mundy completed the Trifecta of Suck by leaving his man alone in the end zone when Gradkowski scrambled around.
Season over, Steelers. It was fun while it lasted.
Topics: 2009 Nfl Playoffs, Anthony Madison, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Big Ben, Black And Gold, Black And Gold Blog, Bruce Arians, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, Fast Willie Parker, Fire Arians, Fwp, Hines Ward, James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, Louis Murphy, Mike Tomlin, Nfl Playoffs, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Steelers Blog, Rashard Mendenhall, Ratbirds, Ravens-Steelers, Roethlisberger, Roethlisberger Concussion, Ryan Mundy, Santonio Holmes, Silver And Black Attack, Steeler Nation, Steelers, Steelers Blog, Steelers Nation, Stefan Logan, Stillers, Super Bowl Champions, William Gay, Zach Miller