Due to the fact that this is finals week, and that the Steelers' playoff hopes are dropping faster than a 13-year-old's balls, this will be a short recap.
Donnie Iris rocks us unconscious with the National Anthem.
Logan rips off his best return of the season, a 72-yarder, but the Steelers can't capitalize inside the red zone and have to kick a field goal.
Off a good return by former Steeler Gary Russell, Oakland uses their running game to move the ball down the field into field goal range.
The teams exchange failed possessions.
Mendenhall tears through the middle of the Oakland defense for 60 yards to take the ball down inside the 15. The Steelers go for it on 4th and 1 but Ben can't sneak it a half yard. In retrospect, it would have been nice to have those 3 points at the end of the game. However, we don't blame Coach for going for it. That was the right call at that point in time. After Mendenhall's big run, Oakland was stacking the box with 8 guys on running downs.
After another Oakland punt, 007 goes to work. He hits Hines over the middle on a crossing route, then goes play-action and hits Holmes, matched up with a nickel-back in the front corner of the end zone.
Would have been great to see the Steelers use the play-action more throughout the game, particularly with the Raiders stacking the box against the run.
A facemask penalty and Oakland converting a 3rd and 14, which is like letting your little brother kick you in the nuts, leads to another Oakland field goal.
The Steelers decide shitting on themselves is more important than scoring points for the rest of the quarter. Ben throws into quadruple coverage in the end zone trying to hit Ward. Naturally, it gets picked off.
There was a Raiders fan dressed like the Joker in our section. Honestly, it was kinda funny watching how pissed off the Steelers fans got at him. He was actually playing the role quite well. He used psychological tactics to get under people's skin, just like the real joker. Quite a performance by the guy, and honestly, it was ballsy to do that at Heinz Field.
Let's set the record straight here. Generally, we're not big on opposing fans invading Heinz Field. But Steelers fans invade other stadiums on a regular basis, so it's natural to expect at least some of the opposing fans will make their way into Heinz Field. As long as opposing fans aren't obnoxious, I don't really care. It's preferable if they're well-informed about their team. Basically, I hold opposing fans to the same standard I would hold myself if I was going to an opposing stadium. Cheer for your team, but don't be overly obnoxious that it gets you kicked out.
Besides Woodley sacking Gradkowski and doing this awesome celebration, the third quarter was about as exciting as the CMA Awards.
The Steelers were driving at the end of the quarter, and with 3rd down at the 25, Ben got sacked, making a 42-yard field goal a 53-yarder. Can't say how many times this has happened to the Steelers over the last few years. Seems like when we're right on the edge of field goal range we get sacked quite often, usually forcing us to punt. Situational football.
Reed misses wide left. Can't blame him for that, it's a 53-yarder.
Gradkowski reverts to his Seton-La Salle days and makes the Steelers defense look like a AA team, lighting them up and moving down the field for the go-ahead score.
007 comes right back. He hits Holmes over the middle who makes a play in space to take the ball down to the 3. Mendenhall bounces it outside and takes it in.
Everyone knows our feeling on Arians - that the successful plays we have come from players making plays, not the plays he calls. So truthful on that drive. Holmes got the ball with 3 guys around him, made a few moves and took it down to the 3. The call to Mendenhall was a run up the middle, it was stuffed up and he bounced it to the outside.
Renegade is played and the Steelers held on first and second down. On 3rd and short, Gradkowski goes for the kill shot and finds some joke wide open over the middle of the field. Ike got beat fair and square, but where was the safety help on the play?
007 comes right back, mixing run and pass and leading the Steelers down into the red zone.
Two Minute Warning
Ben fakes a pitch then lobs one to Hines on a wheel route.
That's six baby.
Oakland's offense hadn't scored 21 points all season. It was unfathomable to think the Steelers Defense would allow them to drive 88 yards in 1:48 to win the game. But that's just what happened. Complete meltdown by the secondary.
Remember those 3 drives we had that went inside the 25? How did those end up?
Turnover on Downs, Interception, Sack/Missed Field Goal
Missed opportunities will kill you.
The Steelers get the ball with 9 seconds left. Ben heaves one for the end zone. Sweed gets his hands on it, but can't come down with the jump ball, as there's more Raiders around him than flies on dog turd.
Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball-Santonio Holmes
Defensive Game Ball-LaMarr Woodley
Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Giving up 21 points in the 4th quarter
Where was the secondary? We'll have more on this later in the week. If there are any hard and fast rules in sports, it's that lead-off walks will always kill you, and that dropped interceptions on final drives always turn into touchdowns. Ryan Clark was out of position more times than we could count.
We lost the game, yes, and that sucks. However, we're not losing our pride. We're the 6-time Super Bowl Champs, and as fans, no one can take that away from us. We'll still be wearing our Steelers gear all week. So even if we don't make the playoffs, this isn't a reason to give up on the team. Don't be a bandwagon fan and jump ship just because we've lost four in a row. All teams go through ups and downs and it's not the end of the world if we don't make the playoffs. As Steelers fans, we're fans for life. And while we'd like to see them succeed every year, this obviously isn't a realistic expectation. There will be down years, it happens.
That being said, changes need to be made. Later this week, we'll be looking into the under-investment in the secondary and how the scheme is hurting the Steelers. Not throwing Dick LeBeau under the bus, but trying to offer a realistic, objective analysis of what's happening right now.
We're not giving up on this team. We sat through the 6-10 year that allowed us to get Ben. We didn't leave the playoff game against the Browns when things looked desperate. The 6-10 year got us Ben in the draft and Tommy Gun brought us back to beat the Browns. We always believe the best lies ahead for the Steelers, and while that may not be this season, we're not throwing in the towel.
By the way, does anyone remember who was the offensive coordinator on that Browns team in 2002 that blew the huge lead to the Steelers? That's right, Bruce Arians.