A black hole is an area in spacetime in which gravity prevents anything from escaping.
The Black Hole is an area at Oakland's O.co Coliseum in which crazy fans cheer and make noise.
The Steelers faced a black hole in the Black Hole. And their efforts to escape were useless. The Raiders dominated the Steelers in all three phases of the game, and withheld a too-little-too-late charge by Pittsburgh to take a 21-18 win in Week 8.
The opposite of that black hole was Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor. He busted free on the first play from scrimmage, taking it 93 yards for a touchdown. It broke former Steelers QB Kordell Stewart's record for longest run by a quarterback in NFL history.
That game, Week 17 of the 1996 season against Carolina, came when Terrelle Pryor was seven years old in Jeannette, Pa., probably rooting for the Steelers. Pryor was otherwise very poor against the Steelers' defense, getting charged with two interceptions, one on a badly thrown ball, the other a combination of a less-than-adequate pass and a drop by a receiver.
Even with that, Pittsburgh suffered its most thorough and complete beating of a miserable 2013 season, in which there was little comfort in the fact they got three takeaways off the Raiders. They managed 10 points on those takeaways - their first points from turnovers this season - and it was trivial due to a dominating Raiders defense.
Ben Roethlisberger's turnover free streak ended, but for the third straight game, a receiver dropped a touchdown pass. He hit tight end Heath Miller on a drag over the goal line in the fourth quarter, but Miller could not maintain the catch through to the ground. It was called a touchdown on the field, but overturned on review.
Two plays later, Roethlisberger would all but drag his receiving group kicking and screaming into the end zone. He avoided a delayed A gap blitz, slipped through three tackles and flipped a quick pass to Emmanuel Sanders for the touchdown. Antonio Brown dropped a 25-yard pass on third and 15 with 10 minutes left in the game, down 21-10.
Brown failed to hang onto another would-be third down conversion on the last drive of relevance. It went out of his hands and into Tracy Porter's, giving the Raiders the ball back with seven minutes left. Brown was charged with a fumble on the play.
The Raiders' defensive game plan destroyed the Steelers' running game, and suffocated any deep passing play the Steelers rarely even tried. The one throw quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made deep was promptly intercepted by Raiders cornerback Mike Jenkins.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, a week removed as the key runner in a 141-yard onslaught against the Baltimore Ravens was rendered useless. He finished with 21 yards on 11 carries, managing to score late. After a two-point conversion run by Emmanuel Sanders, kicker Shaun Suisham's onside kick was as non-competitive as a tee ball game. Oakland recovered and ran out the clock.
At least the Steelers got two missed field goals from Suisham - his first two misses of the year, and both from high percentage areas. And they lost three offensive linemen in the game - Ramon Foster to a concussion, Guy Whimper to a knee injury and David DeCastro to an ankle injury.
Sitting at 2-5, and now moving in the opposite direction they were after a strong two-game winning streak, the Steelers appear at a crossroads. Heading to New England in Week 9, head coach Mike Tomlin faces the same start the 2006 Steelers had, one year before Tomlin took over in 2007.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- David DeCastro injury: Steelers out of linemen as right guard hurts ankle in third quarter
- Guy Whimper injury: Steelers use third left guard of the game, Cody Wallace, after Whimper hurt in third quarter
- Steelers vs. Raiders second half open thread
- Ramon Foster Injury: Steelers LG out with possible concussion, Guy Whimper in vs. Raiders
- Steelers vs. Raiders Inactives: Curtis Brown sitting again for Pittsburgh