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Old 12-06-2009, 10:12 PM   #1
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Default Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh
by James Walker
http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth

PITTSBURGH -- Months from now when we look back at the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday's fourth-quarter meltdown against the Oakland Raiders could turn out to be the defining moment of their season.

Pittsburgh's defense, which entered Sunday ranked No. 3 in the NFL, gave up three touchdown drives in the final 8:21 of the fourth quarter during a 27-24 loss to the Raiders (4-8), the Steelers' fourth straight defeat.

Defensive players were completely befuddled in the locker room afterward.


Cornerback Ike Taylor, who was beaten for a 75-yard touchdown catch by Oakland receiver Louis Murphy in the final quarter, wasn't sure if he should have had backside help on the play. Although there wasn't any, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that should have been the case.

"I mean, if the coach said it, it is what it is," Taylor said. "But itís tough having the receiver with a two-way [route] on a corner with that much field, inside or out."

Safety Ryan Mundy sat at his locker with a blank stare on his face. Mundy had a big personal foul penalty on a late hit that helped extend Oakland's game-winning drive.

"Iím just trying to make a play for my team, thatís all," Mundy said. "I felt like I was there at the appropriate amount of time. You got to accept the referee's call and you canít let that affect you."

Steelers rookie cornerback Joe Burnett also dropped an easy interception when the ball went right through his hands. Five plays later, Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (308 yards, three touchdowns) connected with Murphy for the game-winning 11-yard touchdown.

"If I get 10 more [chances to make that catch], Iíll make it 10 times," Burnett said of the key drop. "That was one where I wish I could have that opportunity back. That normally doesnít happen to me."

It was that kind of day for Pittsburgh.

In fact, itís been that kind of season for the Steelers (6-6).

Blowing fourth-quarter leads is nothing new. The Steelers have blown leads in the final quarter in all six losses. Sunday's game against Oakland was just the most extreme case, considering it was at home against a bad team, and the Steelers were desperate for a victory.

Despite Tomlin's claim that Pittsburgh would "unleash hell" in December, the Steelers were flat throughout the game and didnít play with much urgency until late.

Pittsburgh let the Raiders hang around in the first half. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who returned after missing one game with a concussion, failed to get a fourth-down conversion inside Oakland's 5-yard line. He also threw an interception in Oakland's end zone to thwart another potential scoring drive in the first half. The Steelers led 10-6 at intermission.

When the reigning Super Bowl champions failed to deliver a knockout blow early, the Raiders gradually gained more confidence at Heinz Field, particularly when they realized they were still in the game during a frantic fourth quarter.

In the NFL, the ball can bounce in strange ways in the final quarter, and Oakland made several tremendous plays offensively. Roethlisberger, who threw for 278 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, led Pittsburghís offense to two scoring drives that gave the Steelers the lead. But the defense couldn't hold down the stretch.

"We didnít make a play to win that football game," Tomlin said.

The loss to Oakland may have sealed the Steelers' fate this season.

At the very least, Pittsburgh has to win its final four games to finish 10-6 with a shot at the playoffs. But the way the Steelers are playing, suddenly going on a four-game winning streak is a very tall task.

And 10 wins doesnít even guarantee Pittsburgh a chance to defend its championship. The Steelers probably will need a lot of help.

The Denver Broncos (8-4) and Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5) currently hold the two wild cards in the AFC. The Baltimore Ravens (6-5) also have a chance to help their chances Monday night in a key game against the Green Bay Packers (7-4). The Miami Dolphins (6-6) and New York Jets (6-6) are in the mix, making for a crowded field where a lot has to go right for Pittsburgh in the final month.

If the Steelers donít make the playoffs, it would be one of the most disappointing seasons for Pittsburgh in recent memory. (Not just recent memory. It's one of the most disappointing season I've seen in the last 45 years. - mesa) How they found themselves in that position would be a question the Steelers would ponder all offseason.

Pittsburgh has a talented roster that was good enough to beat the Broncos, San Diego Chargers (9-3) and Minnesota Vikings (10-1). But the Steelers also were inconsistent enough to lose to the lowly Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs (3-9) during a four-game skid.

"Itís not about those teams, itís about us," Steelers defensive back Deshea Townsend said. "Every time we go out to play, itís about us. If we play the ball that we know weíre capable of playing, we have a chance to win every game. But when we donít, we find ways to lose."
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:31 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

A quality coaching staff has it's team ready to go. No excuses. Way too much talent to be 6-6.
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

Maybe its time to evaluate the D and make some changes. We dont see many change ups on this team during the season.
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

I personally don't care about the playoffs right now. I'm just counting down the weeks until the end of this godforsaken season. Even if we sneak in the playoffs, we have no business being there. The Defense cannot be counted on to do anything, and the team looks completely lethargic.

The Steelers knew what was at stake, they boasted all week about "unleashing hell" and still let scrubs and nobodies walk all over them in their own house, these same scrubs who will likely like Kansas City, get blown out next week. By a team that isn't fat and happy. A team that is focused. A team that cares. If they didn't get it against Kansas City, they'll never get it. This season is just living on borrowed time now.

The Steelers deserve to laughed at and mocked and booed today, for putting up two of the most embarrassing title defenses in recent memory, for putting up that abortion of a game a home to a shitty Raiders team. For getting swept by the Bengals. For losing to the Bears and Chiefs. For making crappy QB's look like the second coming of Unitas. For bumbling about in the Red Zone. Go from winning it all, to not even making the playoffs.

Better luck next year, fellas.

Last edited by Edman; 12-06-2009 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

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Originally Posted by Edman View Post
I personally don't care about the playoffs right now. I'm just counting down the weeks until the end of this godforsaken season. Even if we sneak in the playoffs, we have no business being there. The Defense cannot be counted on to do anything, and the team looks completely lethargic.

The Steelers knew what was at stake, they boasted all week about "unleashing hell" and still let scrubs and nobodies walk all over them in their own house, these same scrubs who will likely like Kansas City, get blown out next week. By a team that isn't fat and happy. A team that is focused. A team that cares. If they didn't get it against Kansas City, they'll never get it. This season is just living on borrowed time now.

The Steelers deserve to laughed at and mocked and booed today, for putting up two of the most embarrassing title defenses in recent memory, for putting up that abortion of a game a home to a shitty Raiders team. For getting swept by the Bengals. For losing to the Bears and Chiefs. For making crappy QB's look like the second coming of Unitas. For bumbling about in the Red Zone. Go from winning it all, to not even making the playoffs.

Better luck next year, fellas.
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

After Ike Taylor allowed that 75-yard TD pass, I yelled out loud at the bar, "Can we please defend a championship honorably for a change!!!"
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

I'm also counting down the days to the end of the season, but for entirely different reasons.
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

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I'm also counting down the days to the end of the season, but for entirely different reasons.
Yup, yup. Same here.
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

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After Ike Taylor allowed that 75-yard TD pass, I yelled out loud at the bar, "Can we please defend a championship honorably for a change!!!"
Yeah...I agree. For all the great moments the two SB wins were, they sure messed the bed pretty good in defending both championships. To do it once...ok. To do it twice tells you about the mental makeup of this team.

Let's be honest though...last year a lot of things went well for us at end of games to give us wins. We...very easily...could have missed the playoffs last season had Ben not pulled out about 5 wins.

Some years are just not our years.
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' D melts in Pittsburgh

What sucks is that if the defense was even playing half as well as it was last year, we probably would be 10-2 right now. Ben and the offense are playing better than they were last year, statistically. You could argue that they haven't had the game winning drives, but a lot of the time, they haven't had the opportunity. In this game, there was no chance at leading a comeback with 7 seconds on the clock. But the point is, they shouldn't have had to.

This is what happens when you building your entire secondary around one player.
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