Steelers Fall to Raiders 24-21

3 Consecutive losses are something that the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t experienced since the 2016 season, and that team rebounded to win the AFC North Division and advance to the AFC Championship Game. But after losing 24-21 to the Oakland Raiders for their 3rd straight loss, it might be time to hit the panic button.

For the 2nd straight game, their fate fell into the hands of their defense and for the second straight week, they failed to deliver as the Raiders scored with 21 seconds left to play. QB Derrick Carr found a wide-open Doug Martin for the winning score. And the Steeler still had a shot when QB Ben Roethlisberger hit WR James Washington who lateralled it to WR JuJu Smith-Shuster who ran it down the sidelines for a 43-yard gain with 5 seconds left. Unfortunately, K Chris Boswell’s slip resulted in a missed 40-yard attempt to put the game into overtime as time expired.

Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels rushed 11 times for 28 yards in the loss to the Raiders. He got the start for the injured James Conner who is suffering from an ankle sprain. The final score was Raiders 24 – Steelers 21 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA on December 9, 2018. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

Steelers lose again. They were swept by the entire AFC West Division. They lost to Kansas City in their 2nd game of the season, and to Denver and the LA Chargers the last 2 weeks. They’re 7- 5-1 and remain in first place in the AFC North Division, but they’re a disappointing 4-5-1 in the Conference.

Not a good time to lose with New England and New Orleans waiting.

“You know, tough outcome. But it’s nothing mystical, it’s not something that happened to us, it’s something that we created, and we take responsibility for that. We didn’t make enough plays to win the game.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin who has never won in Oakland. “We’ve got to make plays and not only at the end of the game, just throughout the game. Not making enough significant plays, not taking enough of an advantage of opportunities, and we’ve got to look at all aspects of what we’re doing. I must rectify that, not only what we’re doing but what we’ve asked those guys to do, the quality at which we’re doing it, all the above. And it’s as simple as that.”

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 282 yards and 2 touchdowns in the 24-21 loss to the Raiders at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA on December 9, 2018. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

For the 3rd straight game, the Steelers failed to execute when they needed to. If the offense is supposed to set the tone for this team’s success, it’s not been coming through as expected. Their running game has been close to non-existent in their losing streak as rookie RB Jaylen Samuels was only able to get 28 yards and veteran RB Stevan Ridley 4 on a team that’s supposed to be the best offensive line in the NFL, despite missing T Marcus Gilbert due to injury.

“We didn’t run the ball as well as we’d like, but that’s an 11-man job for our offensive unit.” Said Tomlin “I’ll have more details or further descriptions or contributions probably for you on Tuesday.”

Roethlisberger passed for 282 yards and 2 TDs, but he also missed the entire 3rd quarter due to a rib injury. QB Joshua Dobbs was his replacement and he went 4/9 for 24 yards and rushed for 15 more, but the Steelers couldn’t generate any points, but neither did the Raiders.

“You know we’ve got to catch balls we have the opportunity to catch, we have to sustain blocks longer, we have to tackle better, we have to make kicks. Just good fundamental things and we’re not doing it.”-Said Tomlin.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

After the Raiders gave the Steelers a 7-0 lead, Boswell missed the first of his 2 field goals, then the Steelers would score 14 points on Ridley’s 2-yard run and Smith-Shuster’s (130 yards on 8 receptions) 1st of 2 TDs. The Steelers receiver would also score the go-ahead TD with over 3 minutes left. Still it wasn’t enough to beat the Raiders, who despite having over 100 yards of penalties, they executed when they needed to and won the game. Carr passed for 322 yards and 2 TDs. TE Jared Cook had 130 yards on 7 catches.

But it’s the defense that continues to struggle for the Steelers as they were unable to stop Carr when needed. Whether it’s a lack of fundamentals or just not talented enough, the Steelers need to find out what’s wrong, and fix it.

“Big time. Big time.” Said Tomlin on how frustrating it was to see the defense give up the losing TD. “I think equally as frustrating is we were on some of these plays. We’re there at the ball. We’re not making plays on the ball. Probably equally as frustrating is we’re not making them, and they are. It’s not like these balls are falling incomplete, so we have some work to do.”

Steelers’ wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster scores a touchdown on this catch after a challenge showed that he got two feet in. The Steelers lost to the Raiders 24-21 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA on December 9, 2018. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

And then there’s Boswell, who continues to look unlike the Pro Bowl kicker that was clutch several times last season. He missed 2 field goals vs. the Raiders, missed and extra point in the Chargers loss and missed an extra point in the loss to the Broncos.

When Tomlin was asked about Boswell’s 6 missed field goals he replied “It’s disappointing here today. That’s all I’m going to say on it.”

So once again, the Steelers need to find a way to shake this off and prepare for a team that has had their number since 2001 in the Patriots as they travel to Heinz Field next Sunday. QB Tom Brady and crew lost a tough one vs. Miami Sunday and will be looking to wrap up their 10thconsecutive AFC East Division Title.

The Steelers must also keep the Baltimore Ravens off their backs and try to clinch their 4thDivision title in 4 years. But first, they just need to win a game.

“We understand that we created it, it’s our job to fix it.”-Said Tomlin

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