Steelers defense fades in big moments in Seattle loss

Seahawks beat Steelers but lose Graham

Russell Wilson tosses five touchdowns but Jimmy Graham is carted off in the fourth quarter due to a right knee injury in Seattle's 39-30 win over Pittsburgh.

SEATTLE – The image of Doug Baldwin streaking down the sideline untouched shouldn’t have been a shocker.

The Seahawks offense had been dealing all game.

Asking the Steelers defense to get a stop in the final minutes was simply too much Sunday, as Russell Wilson’s five touchdowns powered the Seahawks past Pittsburgh 39-30.

By taking a short field goal with three minutes left, the Steelers, down 32-30, basically said, we think our defense is good enough to get the ball back despite Wilson's big day. They could have gone for the fourth-down attempt try to go ahead. The Steelers had all three timeouts.

But Wilson got the ball and converted another long third down, with the Steelers’ secondary taking a bad angle on Baldwin’s over-the-middle catch and bolt toward the sideline with 2:01 left.

The reality is this: Wilson is the third quarterback in 11 games to throw for at least four touchdowns on the Steelers. That’s a chin check for the final five games.

Three turnovers overshadowed an otherwise brilliant performance from the offense and Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 456 yards before jogging to the locker room in the final minutes for an NFL concussion test. Maybe that's why the Steelers didn't attempt that fourth down in the red zone.

The Seahawks converted 19 points off Steelers turnovers. That’s the game.

What it means: The picture is becoming clear for the Steelers – when they don’t turn the ball over, they are pretty good. In losses to Cincinnati and Seattle, the Steelers at times looked like the better team, but threw six interceptions. It's nearly impossible to win that way. Roethlisberger had a weird day because he was dealing threw for nearly 500 yards, but at times he was begging the Seahawks to intercept him. Clean up the turnovers and the Steelers can get rolling in the final five games.

What were they thinking?: The fake field goal attempt that resulted in a 54-yard interception and a Seahawks score in the first half was brutal. Take the 44-yard field goal. Instead, the Seahawks created a 10-point swing. That play loomed large in a tight game. It took forever to develop as Landry Jones shifted to the punt-receive area. The Seahawks were not fooled in the slightest.

One reason to get excited: Markus Wheaton was a nonfactor for the first 10 games, but exploded for nine catches and 201 yards. Wheaton had been waiting to emerge as the Steelers’ primary slot receiver. With the Seahawks paying extra attention to Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, Roethlisberger smartly worked the middle of the field and Wheaton capitalized.

One reason for concern: Tight ends are still an issue for the Steelers, who made a point to minimize Jimmy Graham and still gave up 75 yards through three quarters, including two third-and-long conversions on a first-half scoring drive. Graham, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, didn’t score but helped open passing lanes for Wilson.

Fantasy watch: Don’t bet against Bryant scoring weekly. He has a knack for the end zone. With an 11-yard rushing score Sunday, that’s 14 touchdowns in 16 career games. Roetlhlisberger targeted Bryant nine times through the first three quarters. Only Antonio Brown (10) had more.

Ouch: Tight end Heath Miller left the game in the first half with a rib injury. He caught five passes for 45 yards. Linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a concussion and left the game in the second quarter.

Raining 2s: The Steelers are 6-for-9 on two-point conversions after a successful attempt in the first half, tying the 1994 Miami Dolphins for the most conversions in an NFL season.