The Pittsburgh Steelers are just not a good team playing on the western side of the United States. It’s not entirely explainable, but the historical record going far back beyond Head Coach Mike Tomlin shows that they have a disproportionately difficult time winning in the Pacific and Mountain time zones.
And the Oakland Raiders’ home has really been a baffling black here, where they have been sucked into, or sucked, time and again during Ben Roethlisberger’s tenure. But this one wasn’t on him, which we will get to more later on in the night.
The Steelers are now 0-4 playing against the Raiders in Oakland dating back to the 2006 season, and the Raiders team that they lost to were 2-14 (2006), 4-12 (2012), and 4-12 (2013). Granted, Pittsburgh finished 8-8 themselves in each of those seasons, failing to put their best foot forward, but this was a clearly better team.
With their three game skid, the Steelers have now fallen to 7-5-1 and are in serious jeopardy of losing the division with big games coming up against the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints. The Baltimore Ravens, just a half-game behind, have only the Los Angeles Chargers remaining as a major test.
It goes without saying that Roethlisberger’s rib injury, which knocked him out for about 75 percent of the second half, played a major role in tonight’s loss, as the offense was unable to move the ball with Joshua Dobbs under center, while they put up 14 points in the second half.
Roethlisberger checked back in late and immediately led a quick scoring drive before putting them in position for a game-tying field goal with five seconds remaining, only to see Chris Boswell slip and miss. Speaking of Boswell…
This is the second game of the season in which Boswell deserves a lot of the blame for the outcome. He missed what would have been a game-winning field goal in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns in overtime. He missed two tonight, giving him six misses on just 16 attempts on the year.
Equally concerning was the frequent failures on defense. If you thought Jared Cook and his 100-plus receiving yards was frustrating enough, Derek Carr ended up finding Derek Carrier for the game-winning touchdown on fourth down. One more stop would have won the game.
I wrote prior to the game that this was approaching a must win status, but the Steelers got a lot of help with the Ravens, Houston Texans, and New England Patriots all losing. Of course with five losses now, the latter two mean much less.
Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts are all 7-6, just a half-game behind the Steelers. If Baltimore ends up winning the division, Pittsburgh could be out of the playoffs altogether. And you can thank their sucking in the Black Hole for that.