I was hoping against all hope that Pittsburgh’s recent two-game winning streak was not a glorious mirage. All week I tried to find things to be positive about regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I figured that they could ride high into today’s game in Oakland.
Then I remembered that Mike Tomlin is still the head coach of this team, and nobody in the NFL can send a group of players more unprepared, unfocused, and over-confident into a game against an inferior opponent quite like he can.
Unfortunately for “Steeler Nation,” we were treated to yet another “disaster show” against the Raiders this afternoon. While the offense tried to mount a late comeback, it was too little, too late, and Pittsburgh’s 2013 postseason dreams were dashed with the 21-18 loss to Oakland.
Pittsburgh’s defense crapped the bed on the opening play of the game when Terrelle Pryor dashed for 93 yards and a touchdown. LaMarr Woodley, who was out of position and missing tackles all afternoon, bit hard on the fake by Pryor who dashed to the outside and ran to daylight for an early 7-0 lead. To their credit, Oakland’s offense capitalized on Pittsburgh’s early mistakes to score all of their points in the first half.
The Raiders went up 14-0 after they got “cake” field position after a partially blocked Zoltan Mesko punt. Darren McFadden capped off the 26 yard drive with a touchdown run, and the Raiders extended their lead to 21-3 later in the second quarter on another McFadden run courtesy of a Woodley missed tackle.
Pittsburgh’s offense was non-existent for the first three quarters, and they could not capitalize on either of Pryor’s two first half interceptions. Shaun Suisham’s first missed field goal as time wound down in the first half was a killer, but his second missed one on the team’s first drive of the second half was even more crucial.
After they ate almost 10 minutes off the clock, Pittsburgh had to settle for what appeared to be another chip-shot field goal. Unfortunately, Suisham missed and the game remained 21-3 into the fourth quarter after the offense failed to move the ball due to a combination of turnovers, poor play-calling, an over-reliance on the run game led by the “slow as molasses” Le’Veon Bell, and Oakland’s stout defense.
To their credit, the defense pitched a shutout in the second half and forced a big turnover, a fumble forced by Lawrence Timmons, to help set up a touchdown pass by Ben Roethlisberger to Emmanuel Sanders with just over 13 minutes left. Of course, Pittsburgh was unable to draw any closer, and a botched catch by Antonio Brown deep in Oakland territory two possessions later which led to an interception all but sealed the game for the Raiders.
While Pittsburgh got back on the board with a touchdown rush by Bell and a two point conversion by Sanders with just over a minute and a half remaining, the 21-18 score stood after the Steelers were unable to recover the ensuing onside kick.
First of all, kudos must go to the Raiders for taking advantage of their opportunities and keeping the Steelers off of the scoreboard and capitalizing too much off of their three giveaways. Although Pryor didn’t have a great day throwing the ball (88 yards), his athleticism and running ability (103 yards and touchdown) kept drives alive for his team.
As far as Pittsburgh’s offense was concerned, the five sacks they allowed were bad enough. Yet the fact that they only turned three turnovers into 10 points was a bleeping joke. The red zone play-calling and execution are garbage, and Suisham’s two missed field goals could have made the difference as well.
Of course, none of this shocks me at all. This team has drastically underperformed under Mike Tomlin in games like these, and how vastly under-prepared they looked for the first three quarters was utterly pathetic. “All sizzle and no steak” Tomlin will probably get yet another “pass” for this lackluster performance, but these “trap game” losses are becoming far too much of the norm.
At 2-5, this team is all but eliminated from postseason contention, and things will not look any brighter next weekend when they head up to Foxborough.
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