Pittsburgh Steelers: Penalties Cast Shadow on Steelers Win Over Oakland Raiders

Charles HoweCorrespondent INovember 21, 2010

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 26:  Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey #53 of the Pittsburgh Steelers points during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

When the fourth quarter expired, the scoreboard read Pittsburgh 35, Oakland 3. No matter how convincing the win over the Raiders was, the Steelers have to be somewhat concerned about the number of penalties they committed. Fourteen penalties for a team-record 163 penalty yards should alarm any coach.

Some will blame the officiating. One very questionable roughing the passer call against James Harrison that negated an interception return for a touchdown by Ike Taylor would lend some credibility to that argument. However, this problem can't be blamed completely on the officials.

There did seem to be some borderline calls drawing flags when the Steelers' defense was on the field. However, that has no bearing on the number of false starts and offensive holding penalties committed by the offensive line.

The Steelers have lost both of their starting offensive tackles, Willie Colon and Max Starks, for the season, but that does not excuse the sloppy play. The offensive line needs to be more disciplined if the Steelers expect to be Super Bowl contenders.

That's not to say that the team doesn't deserve praise for the win over the Raiders. As a whole, the team played much better this week than it did against New England last week. The defense registered five sacks and held the Raiders to under 200 yards of total offense. The offense had over 400 total yards, including 162 yards on the ground. As poorly as the offensive line played at times, the unit only allowed two sacks.

The Steelers are starting to look more like the team that many people thought they were. However, there is still much room for improvement. The coaching staff has improved the team's play-calling; now they need to improve discipline along the offensive line.