View Full Version : Raiders-Steelers recap

12-07-2009, 07:51 AM
Raiders-Steelers recap
December 6th, 2009
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Player of the game: Wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

The fourth-year veteran had a career-high 149 yards receiving on eight catches and a touchdown. His 57-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter set up Rashard Mendenhall’s 3-yard touchdown run.

Holmes had a 20-yard catch on a touchdown drive later in the fourth quarter -- one which gave the Steelers a late lead that the defense failed to protect.

Play of the game: Cornerback Joe Burnett’s dropped interception late in the fourth quarter.

A miscommunication between Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and wide receiver Louis Murphy, who otherwise looked like Ken Stabler and Cliff Branch respectively, produced what should have been an easy interception for Burnett.

Burnett, who was playing for the injured William Gay, dropped the pass that was thrown right to him.

Asked after the game how many times he makes that play in 10 tries and the rookie from the University of Central Florida said, “I’ll make it 10 times. I wish I could have that opportunity back.”

So do the Steelers.

Four plays after getting a reprieve, Gradkowski and Murphy hooked up for an 11-yard game-winning touchdown.

Best catch: Murphy’s 23-yard catch with 27 seconds left in the game.

If Murphy’s name sounds familiar to serious black and gold fans that is because the Steelers had the former University of Florida standout in for a visit prior to the NFL draft last April.

Murphy, who was picked by the Raiders late in the fourth round, torched the team that showed interest in him, and the jump ball he came down with put Oakland's offense inside the Steelers’ 20-yard line.

It was also symptomatic of everything that went wrong with the Steelers’ defense in the shocking loss to the Raiders, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Murphy, who caught four passes for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns, outmuscled both Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend for the ball.

“We didn’t make a play defensively,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after the game.

Hidden stat: Gradkowski threw for 169 yards in the fourth quarter -- only 24 less than the Pittsburgh native accumulated in two previous starts against the Steelers prior to Sunday.

The Steelers also failed to intercept Gradkowski after picking him off a combined five times in games he started at Heinz Field in 2006 and 2008.

What needs fixed: The defense.

Free safety Ryan Clark had it right. Ben Roethlisberger may told him teammates after the game that everyone had a hand in the Steelers’ fourth consecutive loss but this one was clearly on the defense.

“They did what they were supposed to do and we didn’t,” Clark said.

The Steelers failed to protect a fourth-quarter lead for the fifth time this season, and they coughed up two leads in the final 15 minutes.

What made the loss particularly reflect poorly on the secondary: The Raiders employed maximum protection on their final drive, and the Steelers defensive backs still couldn’t cover Oakland’s receivers even though they had a numbers advantage.

Next up: Thursday night against the Browns in Cleveland.

The one-win Browns are a mess but the Steelers are not exactly in great shape and in more ways than one.

By losing to the woeful Raiders for the second time since 2006, the Steelers have left themselves no margin for error. They need to win their last four games to get to 10-6 and even then they may need some help to make the AFC playoffs.

The game against the Raiders was supposed to be a get-well one for the Steelers, who have lost four in a row for the first time since 2003.

The Steelers need to beat the Browns, and do it soundly, and use Thursday night’s game as a springboard.


“I’m just trying to win a game, man. What’s the coach (Jim) Mora’s response to that question? That’s where I’m at.” -- Tomlin, after chortling, on the Steelers’ chances of making the playoffs.

“I can’t put a finger on it. Is it any different than following the ’05 season? I don’t know. We’ve got a lot of veteran guys. It’s just, the ball’s not bouncing our way. Look at Joe Burnett. He catches the ball all the time in practice, then to come down and throw it up and have three defenders around it and their guys comes up with it, it’s the flukiest things I’ve ever seen. We’re just not finding ways to win.” -- Wide receiver Hines Ward on what has ailed the Steelers during a four-game losing streak.

“As a defense we’re letting this team down a little bit. All year we’ve been allowing teams to win in the fourth quarter when we should have put them away a long time ago.” -- Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

“We got good pressure. On that last drive, (Gradkowski) was on the ground basically every time. I was getting up thinking ‘How did he get this off and complete it?’ I was close several times and he found a way to get it out and connect with his receivers. I’m happy with our pressure. I think we did a decent job with it but we’ve got to do it more.” -- Defensive end Brett Keisel on the pass rush during the Raiders’ final drive.

“That doesn’t mean anything. There’s probably a lot of great teams with losing records. We do feel like we have a good team in here and that’s probably what’s do disheartening about all of this.” -- Keisel on whether the Steelers are a better team than their 6-6 record indicates.

“I know Ike Taylor can play. I know Willie Gay can play. I know Tyrone Carter can play, Ryan Mundy. It’s about going out there and doing it. This is obviously a what-have-you-done-for-me lately league and as a defensive back you have to have short memories.” -- Clark on the struggling Steelers’ secondary.

“I wish I could tell me how to get out of it. Guys are still preparing hard. Guys are still excited to play. Everybody worked this offseason so it’s not like we had an offseason party.” -- Clark on what the Steelers have to do to get out of their funk.

“Just got to look yourself in the mirror and find out how you can make yourself better. We can’t start pointing at this guy, at that guy. You have to look at yourself, find out what you’re doing wrong. If you can correct those mistakes then you’ll make the team better.” -- Townsend on where the Steelers go from here.

“It’s unbelievable, man, I don’t know what it is. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s vey disappointing. I’m not used to being on the field like that. I’m used to our defense making the plays when we need to make the plays. It’s been tough this year.” -- Inside linebacker James Farrior on the defense’s inability to close out teams in the fourth quarter of games.