Sunday, September 23, 2012
Wrap-up: Raiders 34, Steelers 31
By Jamison Hensley
Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 34-31 loss at the Oakland Raiders:
What it means: The Steelers' struggles out west continued as they failed to hold a 10-point fourth-quarter lead. Pittsburgh gave up 13 unanswered points. Sebastian Janikowski's 43-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Raiders. The Steelers have now lost four straight to teams in the west: Denver (twice), San Francisco and Oakland. Pittsburgh falls to 1-2 and one game behind the Bengals (2-1).
Luck runs out for Brown: Antonio Brown was fortunate to recover his own fumble in the end zone for a 11-yard touchdown catch that put the Steelers ahead, 31-21, late in the third quarter. One possession later, Brown coughed up the ball again. This time, the Raiders recovered and converted it into a Janikowski 32-yard field goal that tied the game. That meant Brown fumbled on two of his seven catches.
A error-filled series: Jonathan Dwyer carried the ball three times for minus-one yard. But he hurt the Steelers in another way. He fumbled the ball in the second quarter. To make matters worse, Pittsburgh defensive end Ziggy Hood was called for a neutral zone infraction on fourth-and-two. One play later, Carson Palmer threw a three-yard touchdown to Darrius Heyward-Bey (who was later hospitalized after a scary hit by safety Ryan Mundy) to tie the game at 14.
Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes: The Steelers only have themselves to blame for this tough loss. They fumbled the ball twice (which were converted into 10 points) and were penalized 10 times for 81 yards.
Ben Roethlisberger carries offense: The Steelers couldn't run the ball against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. That meant Roethlisberger had to do the heavy lifting. He was 36 of 49 for 384 yards and four touchdowns.
Miller's time: One difference in Todd Haley's offense has been the increased role of tight end Heath Miller in the red zone. Miller scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, both four-yard catches. That was Miller's third and fourth touchdowns of the season. He hasn't had more than two touchdowns in a season since 2009, when he scored six times.
What's next: The Steelers are on an early bye week. The hope is linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu will be healthy enough to play in the Oct. 7 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.