Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 278 yards in yesterday's 27-24 loss to the Raiders at Heinz Field.
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To be sure, Roethlisberger contributed to the three failed attempts in the red zone in the first half, getting stopped on a fourth-and-1 sneak at the Raiders' 5 and throwing an interception into triple coverage in the end zone. But, after that pick, he completed his next nine passes for 151 yards and produced two fourth-quarter touchdowns that kept bailing out the defense, the last with 1:56 remaining. His only incompletion in the second half came on his desperation pass in the end zone on the final play.
1. ANOTHER DROPPED INTERCEPTION. Mike Tomlin said his defense failed to make a single big play during any of the three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, and nobody had a better opportunity than rookie CB Joe Burnett. On his first play after replacing injured William Gay, Burnett dropped an easy interception with 35 seconds remaining that would have ended the game. "I thought they might throw my way and I should have made it," Burnett said.
2. WHERE'S THE REBOUND? On the play after Burnett's drop, Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, under pressure from James Harrison, heaved a high pass to the sideline for which wide receiver Louis Murphy outleaped cornerback Ike Taylor for a 23-yard gain.
3. ANOTHER BIG BEN COMEBACK? Trailing 13-10, Roethlisberger needed only two plays to regain the lead, connecting on a 57-yard pass-and-run to Santonio Holmes to the Raiders' 3 that set up Rashard Mendenhall's 3-yard touchdown run.
4. NOT LIKE IKE? Three plays after the Steelers took a 17-13 lead, Gradkowski fooled the defense on third-and-1 and beat Taylor with a 75-yard touchdown to Murphy. Tomlin said Taylor was supposed to have had inside coverage and deep help on the play.
5. NO HARD FEELINGS. Roethlisberger completed his ninth consecutive pass in the second half when Hines Ward beat cornerback Chris Johnson's press coverage and caught a smooth 11-yard touchdown that appeared to be the winner with 1:56 left.
That's the number of pass plays of 20 yards or longer by the Raiders, who had a league-low 14 in the first 11 games. WR Louis Murphy had three, including a 75-yard touchdown.
After Ben Roethlisberger's only sack made it fourth-and-15 from the Raiders' 34, coach Mike Tomlin elected to try a 53-yard field goal, leading 10-6, on the first play of the fourth quarter. Jeff Reed missed, and the Raiders went 57 yards on 11 plays to score the go-ahead touchdown. "We felt good about Jeff being able to hit that, based on his pregame performance," Tomlin said. Perhaps, but Reed had not made a field goal longer than 46 yards this season. The decision to not punt started the Raiders' final 21-point flurry.
"Words can't describe. That's incredible. The way we're used to winning games, playing good defense, doing whatever it takes at the end, we're not doing it. We've been losing games the same way all year."
-- Cornerback Deshea Townsend
Several defensive backs said they did not get the proper call on the 61-yard pass play that beat them in overtime in Kansas City. And several said the same thing happened again on the Raiders' winning touchdown when wide reciever Louis Murphy got behind Ryan Mundy, who said he was in different coverage from the defense that was called. "That's happened twice now," said ILB James Farrior. "I have to do a better job of making sure the defensive backs get the call."
@ CLEVELAND BROWNS, 8:20 P.M. THURSDAY: The Browns (1-11) are coming off a 30-23 loss to the San Diego Chargers. The Steelers have won 12 in a row and 18 of the past 19 against the Browns.
First Published December 7, 2009 12:00 am