It's silly to blame the Steelers' 21-18 loss to the Oakland Raiders on any one play, or player or timeout. But the team must continue to evaluate where it is going as a franchise, both for this season and the future.
One glaring issue they're having is in the special teams - and not the kicker who was perfect on 14 attempts until Sunday.
Punter Zoltan Mesko was released by the Patriots - the Steelers' Week 9 opponents - on the final cut in training camp. The Steelers had released veteran Brian Moorman, presumably because he was beaten in a camp-long competition by incumbent Drew Butler.
Butler lasted a day before he was released in favor of the recently unemployed Mesko.
Since then, he's found himself in the bottom third in the NFL in fair catches (6), 29th in the league in net (36.7 yards) and his bobble of a good snap on a punt against Oakland led to a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown.
To be fair to Mesko, David Paulson's protection on the block could have been a bit stronger, but he's not supposed to prevent the outside rusher from moving forward; it's one less player the Steelers' return team has to block if he rushes that far. But he's supposed to watch the ball, and if he has a chance to get to it, he'll take it.
He did, and the Steelers had their first punt blocked right at a time when the team needed its offense to get on the field, hold onto the ball and come away with some points.
This isn't a one-game issue with Mesko. While he drilled a perfect punt in the second half, getting the ball downed inside the 20, that was basically his only really good kick of the 2013 season. He's been shaky at best all season, and at worst, a liability.
The Steelers may have injuries they need to address with the limited cap room they have available (right guard David DeCastro and utility offensive lineman Guy Whimper are both having MRIs done today to assess injuries suffered Sunday), but it's clear Mesko is simply not getting the job done.
With teams only keeping one punter on their roster, it seems highly likely there is a free agent available who can produce better results than what Mesko has to this point.
Butler is unsigned. Even Moorman is unsigned. Maybe it's time to correct a mistake made after the final rosters were set.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers smacked in the face by Raiders: All postgame news and updates
- Major containment issues on Pryor's record-setting run
- Steelers injury report: David DeCastro, Guy Whimper scheduled for MRIs
- Winners and Losers in Steelers Week 8 loss to Raiders
- Steelers vs. Raiders final score: Pittsburgh dominated in three phases by Oakland in 21-18 loss
- David DeCastro injury: Steelers out of linemen as right guard hurts ankle in third quarter