Pittsburgh Steelers: Game Ball and Goat Awardees for Loss to the Oakland Raiders

Chris Gazze@ChrisG_PITCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Head Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on while his team warms up during pre-game warm ups before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Inexcusable. That is the only word that can describe the Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

Pittsburgh is supposed to be the better team, but they weren’t against Oakland. They played undisciplined football all day, turning the ball over twice and committing 10 penalties.

And on this day, it wasn’t the offense that was the problem. In fact, the offense was quite brilliant in putting up 31 points while picking up 433 total yards and 24 first downs.

Outside of turnovers by Jonathan Dwyer and Antonio Brown, the offense did everything that they needed to do. They put up more than enough points to win, and they kept the ball for an impressive 36:15.

For that reason, the game ball goes to Ben Roethlisberger, who was brilliant all day.

Roethlisberger completed 36-of-49 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns—though that number will likely drop to three due to a fumble by Brown which was recovered in the end zone for a score.

What made Roethlisberger’s performance even more impressive was the non-existent running game. The Steelers only ran the ball 20 times for 54 yards including an eight-yard scramble by Roethlisberger.

On the day, Roethlisberger connected with 10 different receivers, with Mike Wallace and Heath Miller leading the way with eight receptions each.

In the end, it just wasn’t enough by Roethlisberger as the line failed him at the end when the Raiders picked up their only sack of the game.

Roethlisberger was able to extend plays throughout the entire game up until that point, and it paid off. There may not have been a better quarterback in the league this week.

But as outstanding as Roethlisberger was, that is how awful the defense was.

A lot of the blame could be placed on Ryan Mundy—who was directly involved in two of the Raiders' scores—but the goat of the game goes to the entire defensive lineup.

After intercepting Carson Palmer on the first play of the game, the Steelers defense allowed Darren McFadden —who had struggled this season—to score on his first carry of the game.

The carry went for 64 yards and gave the Raiders plenty of momentum.

As the game progressed, even though the Steelers were statistically dominating the game, they let the Raiders hang around.

The defense could not get off the field on third downs as the Raiders converted on 7-of-12 attempts.

Even more concerning for the Steelers defense was that it allowed 34 points on only 56 plays. That is unacceptable.

The loss of Troy Polamalu and James Harrison is tough to overcome, but they should be able to contain the Raiders to less than 34 points with backups playing at multiple positions.

Besides Mundy’s struggles, Lawrence Timmons was virtually invisible again, and the defensive line failed to get any penetration—can Steve McLendon get some snaps?

LaMarr Woodley had a sack, but the Steelers need more in terms of pressure from him since they're getting nothing from Chris Carter and Jason Worilds on the right side.

Keenan Lewis was routinely beat, drawing a flag. Ike Taylor got beat and then trash talked after the wide receiver dropped a sure touchdown pass.

It was a pathetic effort from the defensive players and a poor effort from the coaching staff.

Dick LeBeau doesn’t have the horses that he used to, but that does not mean that the defense should get shredded. The Steelers need to adjust the scheme to make up for deficiencies on the defense.

Beyond this, Mike Tomlin has to have his team ready to play against a poor opponent on the road. Not only was the defense shredded, the Steelers had to use two timeouts in the first half due to substitution problems.

As a result, the Steelers may have missed out on a touchdown at the end of the half.

And with that, Tomlin and LeBeau earn a second goat of the game award.

As Tomlin would put it, the Steelers need to go back to the lab. They have plenty to fix during the bye week.

By no means is the season over, but a 1-2 start with losses to the Raiders and Denver Broncos does send up a red flag for the rest of the season.


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