The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to defeat the Oakland Raiders in dramatic fashion 38-35 at Heinz Field Sunday, and following the game there were players who could be dubbed 'Winners' and some who could be labeled 'Losers'. See who falls into which category following the big Week 9 win for the black and gold.
Antonio Brown - 17 catches for 284 yards and the huge catch-and-run that set up the go-ahead field goal for Chris Boswell. Performances like these are the stuff of legend that stand out in history. You can nit-pick about his fumble and the once or twice he may have not ran out of bounds at the exact right spot, but this guy was unstoppable today, obviously.
DeAngelo Williams - 27 carries for 170 yards, two catches for 55 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Williams was the perfect fill-in for the absence of Le'Veon Bell after his season-ending injury last week. He ran hard, caught passes and made big plays when the team needed him the most. He also had an explosion of a block on Aldon Smith during a passing play early in the game that put Smith on his back. This was a career day for Williams.
Roosevelt Nix - This guy appears to do whatever is asked of him by the Pittsburgh staff. He was every bit the elemental part of the Steelers' ground game today making several crucial blocks, but what was his best highlight was his huge hit that forced a fumble on a kick return that set up the Steelers' offense in the Raiders' red zone and allowed them to get a 14 point lead.
Mike Mitchell - Whether its the coaching of Carnell Lake or the natural tenacity of Mitchell, he is the face of this hard-hitting secondary. He delivered several punishing hits on the Raiders that took their toll on players and set the tone for what was a very physical game for both sides. His early hit on Amari Cooper after a first down completion set an early tone, but his biggest play came from a huge hit and forced fumble on LaTavius Murray that changed the momentum of the football game during the third quarter. Fake tough? Yeah, right.
Martavis Bryant - I struggled with myself a lot with this during our podcast because of the amazing moves he put on to score his touchdown late in the game, as well as his other first down in the game that had him snatch a pass and drag a defender for the first down; however his early drops in this game were tough pills to swallow for Ben Roethlisberger and could have been a huge part of a losing effort with the plays he left out on the field.
Jarvis Jones - Jones seemed to be non-existent on the field today, despite his one recovered fumble, the only other statistic he recorded was a single tackle. He has not been the player which the Steelers have needed and while his performance was not a crushing blow to the team, his absence in the playmaking aspect of the game is a serious disappointment.
The evil injury cloud - You know what? I told myself I wouldn't do this when Maurkice Pouncey went out. I told myself again when Ben Roethlisberger went down the first time, another time when Kelvin Beachum went out for the year, yet again when Le'veon Bell went out for the season. BUT ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. There comes a time when you're sick and tired of being sick and tired, and THIS IS IT. Whatever evil cloud hovers above this team, I say to you, "LEAVE!"
But in all seriousness, the Steelers have had the worst luck of any team that I can remember in recent history. I thought it was bad for the Arizona Cardinals last year who went down to their fourth string quarterback, but the Steelers have already been there and done that. Now Pittsbugrh is working without almost all of its stars on offense with the injury of Ben Roethlisberger. The misfortune of this rush of injuries seems to appear each time it looks like the offense can finally get into the superb rhythm that we hope it will be set up with for the long run in 2015. Roethlisberger goes down when Bell comes back; then when Ben gets back Bell is lost for the season; now the team still finds a way to light up the scoreboard even without Bell and Roethlisberger has another injury which could sideline him for significant time. There is no player that gets the loss because of this, but the Steelers and injuries in 2015 is something that nobody saw coming. Maybe someone from Pittsburgh got a hold of Jobu's rum? If it was you, please, put it back.
Ross Cockrell - His red zone interception flipped the whole game around for Pittsburgh after Antonio Brown's fumble and the questionable roughing the passer call on Shazier that saved the Raiders after a third down stop earlier in that drive. He has already been worth the waiver wire acquisition the Steelers took to grab him.
Antown Blake - Though he is not an excellent cover man, his hard-hitting style of defense has to be appreciated. He tried his best to keep up with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but his hits after the ball got to receivers, today, each sent shockwaves into the offensive players and was every part of the hard-hitting menace that the Steelers' defense was today.
Jesse James - His touchdown reception in the red zone had to be a great moment for the player that struggled all through the preseason, but equally impressive was his block that sprung Martavis Bryant down the sideline for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He played a big role in both fouth quarter touchdowns for Pittsburgh and definitely gets a nod here.