Steelers notebook: Injuries shake up shaky offensive line
October 27, 2013 11:14 PM
Ben Roethlisberger lies face down after being sacked by the Raiders late in the fourth quarter Sunday.
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
OAKLAND, Calif. -- With each game seems to come more setbacks for the Steelers, and those do not include the losses.
Three more players left Sunday's game with injuries, and they all happened to be offensive linemen. Ramon Foster left in the first half with a concussion, David DeCastro in the third quarter with a right ankle injury and then Foster's replacement at left guard, Guy Whimper, was knocked out with a left knee injury.
Coach Mike Tomlin said DeCastro and Whimper will be evaluated in Pittsburgh and that he was not sure how seriously they were injured.
After all three injuries, the Steelers were left with a line that included Mike Adams at left tackle, Kelvin Beachum at left guard (moving from left tackle) and Cody Wallace at right guard. Wallace entered as the third left guard of the game but had to move to the right when DeCastro was hurt.
Jeannette native Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard run to begin the scoring landed him in three different record books.
It was the longest run by a quarterback in NFL history, the longest run by anyone in Oakland Raiders history (Bo Jackson had a 92-yarder in 1989) and the second-longest run against the Steelers behind only O.J. Simpson's 94-yard run in a 1972 game at Buffalo.
Pryor came into the game with 105 more rushing yards (289) than any Steelers running back (Le'Veon Bell led with 184). After gaining 106 yards Sunday, Pryor is 187 ahead of Bell (208).
After Pryor's first run, the Steelers held him to 13 yards on eight carries. He also wound up running for more yards than he passed for (106-88). He was intercepted twice and finished with a passer rating of 25.7.
More running woes
The Steelers played their 15th consecutive game without producing a 100-yard rusher. The previous to do it, Isaac Redman, was released this week.
They managed just 8 rushing yards in the first half, but Oakland's defense has been stingy in that situation this season. Oakland has allowed just one rushing touchdown in the first half and has held three opponents to fewer than 40 yards in a game. The Steelers finished with 35 yards on 19 carries.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had to make a quick decision late in the game -- call a timeout that the team almost certainly would be able to use later, or give up 5 yards on a delay-of-game penalty.
He ended up calling the timeout and still was trying to decide after the game if he made the right call.
"I know timeouts are valuable, but for an offense that wasn't scoring touchdowns, so is 5 yards," he said.
Trailing, 21-10, Roethlisberger completed a 7-yard pass to running back Bell, who went out of bounds at the Raiders 12 to stop the clock with 1:43 left.
Roethlisberger thought Raiders linebacker Kevin Burnett should have been penalized for a horse-collar tackle and ran over to complain to an official, who appeared ready to call it. But no flag was thrown after the official talked with referee John Parry.
"So by the time we got back to the huddle, you look up and there's three seconds on the play clock," Roethlisberger said. "I thought they were either going to call the penalty or reset the play clock."
The Steelers would have loved to have had that timeout back after they scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run by Bell and a 2-point conversion on a run by receiver Emmanuel Sanders with 1:24 left to cut the deficit to 21-18. After they failed to recover their onside kick, they were able to stop the clock only twice. The Raiders ran it down to 28 seconds before punting. The Steelers took over at their 3 with 18 seconds left and were able to run just one play. Had they had that third timeout, they probably would have gotten the ball back with about one minute left.
"It was a tough call," Roethlisberger said. "I guess maybe tomorrow coach [Tomlin] will tell me what he wants to do in that situation."
The Steelers are not just giving up big plays at an alarming rate, they are allowing them early in the game and making it difficult to play catch-up.
After allowing Pryor's long run on the first play from scrimmage, the Steelers have now given up six plays of 51 yards or longer this season. Three of those have been runs -- 93 yards by Pryor, 70 by Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and 55 by Chicago's Matt Forte.
They have allowed pass plays of 70 yards to Minnesota's Greg Jennings, 61 to Cincinnati's Tyler Eifert and 51 to Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson.
Five of the six plays have come in the first quarter. All of them have either been for touchdowns or resulted in touchdowns.
"We just can't spot teams that many points and try to fight back," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "When we come out of the locker room, we got to come out ready to go. Sometimes plays like [Pryor's], you're going to give up, but you got to settle down and keep them out of the end zone."
Despite the loss ...
For only the second time this season, the Steelers forced some turnovers. Defensive backs Troy Polamalu and Cortez Allen each intercepted a pass. The Steelers now have five interceptions. They also came up with their first fumble recovery, by Keisel.
Before missing from 34 and 32 yards, Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham hit a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter for his 19th in a row on attempts between 40 and 49 yards.
Steelers -- QB Landry Jones, WR Markus Wheaton, CB Curtis Brown, TE Richard Gordon, LB Kion Wilson, LB Chris Carter, DT Hebron Fangupo.
Raiders -- S Tyvon Branch, LB Martez Wilson, DE Ryan Robinson, OL Andre Gurode, OT Menelik Watson, OT Tony Pashos, WR Juron Criner.
* The victory was the first by the Raiders in more than a decade following their off week. They had lost 10 in a row.
* The Steelers have lost their past eight games when playing out of the Eastern time zone (Don't forget to turn your clocks back Saturday night).
* Roethlisberger is on pace to be sacked more than ever, even as the Steelers try to protect him more. He was sacked five times Sunday and now has 26 sacks not halfway through the season. He was sacked a career-high 50 times in 2009.
* Heath Miller had an 11-yard touchdown pass taken away by replay when officials ruled he dropped the ball. Two plays later, Sanders caught a short pass and ran it in for a 9-yard touchdown.
* The Raiders rushed for three scores in a game for the first time in more than two years.
* Steelers first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones, who did not start, is still looking for his first sack in his rookie season. Raiders rookie linebacker Sio Moore, drafted in the third round out of Connecticut, sacked Roethlisberger twice and has three sacks in the past two games.
Gene Collier, Ron Cook and Gerry Dulac contributed to this report. Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @EdBouchette.
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