The Pittsburgh Steelers looked to have things very much in order for three quarters against the Oakland Raiders Sunday. But things changed dramatically in the final 15 minutes. The Raiders rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Steelers 34-31 and earn their first win of the season.
Pittsburgh, which dropped to 1-2 with the loss, has a bye for Week Four and will return to action Oct. 7 with a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The two-week gap can certainly be put to use, as head coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have plenty to work to do given the slow start.
Bucking decades of tradition, the Steelers, under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley, are morphing into a “pass-first” offense and the results thus far have been somewhat mixed. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is putting up big numbers—he threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns on 36 of 49 passing in the loss to the Raiders—but the lack of a running game is a concern, even for Tomlin, who spoke out on the subject this week.
The balance the Steelers are looking for could be coming soon in the form of running back Rashard Mendenhall. Pittsburgh’s No. 1 back during the past three years has yet to play this season, but all indications are he should be back when the Steelers tussle with the Eagles.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers rank well in most categories but have been giving up way too many points to be any better than their 1-2 record indicates. The Steelers are giving up an average of 25 points a game to rank 20th in that category.
Despite the points of concern, this is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Under Tomlin they have won two Super Bowls, and anything less is unacceptable to Steelers Nation. Follow your NFL picks during the next two weeks and then form a decision on this game.