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Steelers Vs. Raiders: Pittsburgh Blows 10 Point Lead To Lose 34-31 To Oakland


Steelers coach Mike Tomlin ordered his offense back on the field after yet another run for minimal gain. They had picked up less than the one yard required to move the chains, bringing up fourth down.

Not long before that, it was 2nd-and-3, after the Steelers managed to recover its own fumble - the second time in the game a receiver fumbled and managed to maintain possession.

A two-yard run by Isaac Redman on second down brought up a very manageable 3rd-and-short.

Manageable for every team, it seems, but the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Redman was stuffed for no gain, in a very common situation where the offensive line failed to get a push at the line of scrimmage, and the running back failed to aggressively charge the hole.

Tomlin, as if to say he's grown weary of an offensive line that cannot produce a running game reminiscent of even a season ago - when the offense was often criticized for its lack of ability to run the ball - marched his team back out to the field, at his own 29-yard line, and went for it on 4th and short.

If the Steelers were going to lose that game, it wouldn't be because they punted. He went for it, because, frankly, they deserved to lose if they were going to yet again fail to run the ball successfully.

Probably the most insane 4th down attempt Tomlin has ever ordered. But it worked. Somehow, Redman was able to go for six yards - nearly a season high - to convert.

But it wouldn't last. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked on the next play, and in two simple snaps of the ball, the Steelers season through three games was defined. Sometimes able to accomplish the job at hand, but quickly jolted back to the painful reality that 1-2 heading into the bye week is, at best, a fair assessment of this team's performance so far in 2012.

Roethlisberger had another outstanding game, going 36-for-49 for 384 yards and four touchdowns, but with zero help from his running games - 54 yards on 20 carries - the Steelers were unable to ice the game late, despite carrying a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Not that the Steelers' defense helped much.

Another game with considerably more penalties and big plays allowed instead of splash plays, they wilted late, surrendering yards on the ground late to a team that averaged 34 rushing yards a game entering Week 3.

RB Darren McFadden scored from 64 yards out in the first quarter, and while Oakland's running game did not dominate throughout, the one play equaled the Raiders season output to that point. And they still managed to rush over their season average after it.

For the second straight game, Roethlisberger did not throw an interception, and his four touchdown passes (two to tight end Heath Miller, one to Antonio Brown who fumbled and recovered at the goal line, and one to Mike Wallace) equaled his season total.

Critical fumbles - note the plural - from Brown sucked the momentum out of the Steelers' sails and moved it directly to the Raiders. Brown's post-catch flamboyance this week was replaced by mad scrambles for his fumbles - both stripped well after the completion. He managed to recover the one in the end zone, but when the Steelers had the ball up 10 points, one more long drive would have iced it. Brown failed to secure the ball, and left the door open for the Raiders.

The previously winless Raiders seized the opportunity all the way through to Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning 44-yard field goal at the buzzer.

Pittsburgh is off next week, and will hopefully take some time to figure out how a team can sit at 1-2 with a quarterback playing as well as Roethlisberger is. The quick and obvious answers are they are getting no splash plays on the defensive side of the ball, their running game is severely overmatched (Oakland allowed 147 yards a game on the ground through two games) and now they have receivers with fumbleitis.

Philadelphia travels to Pittsburgh for a Week 5 inter-state showdown.