The Pittsburgh Steelers are boasting a stellar record of 1-2 after losing to the previously hadn't-won-a-game-yet Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The defense fell asleep. They blew a 10-point lead. Twice. The whole situation sucks even worse because Carson Palmer is the Raiders' QB now. Needless to say, it was a rather intense, brutal match that the Steelers were heavily favored to win, but they lost it in spectacular fashion.
Maybe it was the whole playing-on-baseball-field-dirt thing. Does anyone else find that incredibly distracting?
Probably the most intense part of the game was when wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was knocked out and hospitalized by a crazy scary hit from Ryan Mundy. And no, Mundy wasn't penalized by the always-controversial replacement refs. Heyward-Bey was taken to the hospital with a concussion and neck injury. Apparently he's able to move his extremities, which is a good sign. It was just one of the many big hits and injuries that took place throughout this game. Hopefully Heyward-Bey will be okay -- of course no one wishes that upon any player.
Overall, it was pretty strange to see the offense look rather efficient and the defense suck so badly that I'm pretty sure I covered my eyes throughout the entire second half. The Raiders outscored the Steelers 13-0 in the fourth quarter alone. The Raiders. Against the Steelers. Is this real life?
Even so, it was a rather productive day for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He threw four touchdown passes, two to Heath Miller and then one each to Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. He had no interceptions and was sacked only one time. However, he couldn't rally for a touchdown at the very end. On the final offensive series, there was that sack and an incomplete pass on third down. It seemed that everyone had kind of given up at that point. You'd think after a four-touchdown pass game, you oughta win it.
The worst part on the offensive side of the Steelers' game by far was their running game. They managed to run only 54 yards on 20 carries. I mean, that's just cray, you guys. Jonathan Dwyer also fumbled and set up the Raiders' second touchdown. He didn't play again after that one. All around -- a pretty terrible showing.
Also, Antonio Brown had a huge fumble and the Raiders recovered at their 36. They were able to cruise 50 yards to set up a field goal that tied the game at 31-31 with 6 minutes to go. Yet another lead blown in what should have been an "easy" game for the Steelers.
But I'm very hard pressed to put the majority of the blame on Brown, who really gave it his all otherwise (he's gotta work on that fumbling though -- he got lucky the first time and it hurt pretty badly the second). The defense just couldn't get it together. Though Ryan Clark intercepted a pass, it was only the second turnover forced this season by the defense. Second turnover of the season! Is this what happens when Troy Polamalu doesn't play? Like I said, a team that puts up 31 points against the Oakland Raiders should not have lost. I'm not even sure how much of a difference having Troy and James Harrison will have. Coming back could be the spark the defense needs, but it seems there's so much more fundamentally wrong that it's a bit still nerve-racking to think of future games against much better opponents.
Let's hope that these superstars are the missing key to our sleepwalking defensive unit. Darren McFadden had a huge 64-yard run in the beginning of the game that pretty much set the tone of their overall inefficiency. Carson Palmer just tore the D apart with short passes. Palmer was 7 for 8 on third-down conversions in the second half. The defense couldn't protect two 10-point leads in the second half. All of this just really, really, really sucks, and if the defense can't figure things out after the bye week (and the running game too), it could be the start of an incredibly long season for us Steelers fans.
I'm more annoyed than anything that the Raiders vs. Steelers rivalry actually lived up to the hype. But then again, if this is how we play against Oakland, you bet your ass I'm already having heart palpitations about how we're going to do against a team like the Baltimore Ravens. Might not be our year, fans. Of course, once we win again I'll be singing a different tune, but as of right now, I'm in a gloomy, doomy mood, and it's going to be an extremely long two weeks until the Steelers play the Philadelphia Eagles on October 7.
Follow Jill Baughman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jayboff