Steelers' special teams failures contribute to loss
OAKLAND, Calif. — Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham was living the dream after kicking a last-second field goal to defeat AFC North rival Baltimore. But he followed that effort with a nightmarish performance in a 21-18 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Suisham connected from 47 yards in the second quarter — his 15th consecutive converted field goal, matching a career high — to trim Oakland's lead to 14-3. But misses from 34 and 32 yards significantly impacted an outcome that dropped the Steelers to 2-5 and dimmed their already-slim playoff chances.
“We lost today because I failed to do my job,” a dejected Suisham said. “My job is to make field goals, and I didn't do that today.
“A miss is a miss. I'm not going to make excuses. We lost because of me.”
Perhaps the most damaging miss was the 32-yarder with 5:54 left in the third quarter with the Steelers trailing 21-3. The wayward attempt, coupled with the Steelers chewing up 9 minutes, 11 seconds off the clock, proved damaging down the stretch with time on the Raiders' side.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, hounded by a relentless Oakland pass rush, sought to comfort Suisham afterward.
“I talked to him and told him to keep his head up because he's our guy,” Roethlisberger said. “I'll bet the house he's going to make it every time he kicks it no matter where we are on the field.”
The usually reliable Suisham has been most vulnerable on attempts inside 35 yards. Two of his three failed attempts came against Cincinnati last December, including a miss from 28 yards.
“It was one of those days, but I know when he lines up he's going to make it most times,” Roethlisberger said. “I don't like to talk about any group because offensively we weren't good enough.”
Roethlisberger tossed two interceptions and was sacked five times behind a sputtering offensive line. But a blocked punt, inadequate kick returns (except a 44-yard punt return by Antonio Brown) and spotty punt coverage put the Steelers in a deep hole in the first half.
“We dug ourselves in a hug, and it's been the story of our season,” Roethlisberger said, “and we dug ourselves in a hole this game.”
Still, receiver Jerricho Cotchery refused to let Suisham and the special teams take all of the blame for the Steelers losing in Oakland for the second year in a row.
“In a loss like this you can't have one guy shouldering the blame,” Cotchery said. “Hopefully, we can find something in to gain some success moving forward.”
“This is certainly a team sport. Sometimes, everyone has to share the blame. If you point the finger at one guy – or one unit – then you overlook other mistakes. So, everyone has to get better so we can get off to a faster start than we did today.”
The Raiders sprinted out of the box when quarterback Terrelle Pryor gutted the Steelers' defense with a 93-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The Steelers' backs weren't off the canvas before Oakland running back Rashard Jennings blocked a Zoltan Mesko punt.
The Steelers' special teams failures were complete when Jennings cleanly gloved Mesko's onside kick with 1:24 left in the game. Then Brown was cut down for a 2-yard loss on a punt return with 18 seconds left at the Steelers' 3-yard line to leave Roethlisberger with only a wing and a prayer to force overtime.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.