This isn’t about the team physician recommending that Ben Roethlisberger sit out the Ravens game; rather, it’s the next opponent on the schedule. And friend, the Oakland Raiders are just what the doctor ordered.
While Dennis Dixon performed well enough to get a win in Baltimore, the end result was another loss. A terrific finish to the first half of the season has morphed to a disastrous start for the second half as the Steelers have lost three in a row. They are 6-5 and out of the playoff picture. They’ll most likely need to run the table and cross their fingers to grab the last playoff spot.
Losing to the Bengals at home hurt. Losing to the Chiefs on the road hurt more. But losing to the hated Ravens after holding the lead and forcing 4th and 5 on their side of the field with less than two minutes remaining? That’s a poke in the eye and a kick to the privates. The Steelers need a win badly to end this 3-game skid. And what better way to start than with the Oakland Raiders?
The Raiders are starting journeyman Bruce Gradkowski at QB after benching Jamarcus Russell. But it doesn’t seem to matter as their dismal offensive output plods along at 10 points per game, last in the league. And while the defense looks good in some categories, they give up over 20 points per game. Surely the Steelers can manage to net a touchdown and couple of field goals on offense while breaking even on special teams and defense. Is it too much to ask?
Answer this, can the current Super Bowl Champions lose to both Kansas City and Oakland in a three-game span? I say no, they can’t. The Steelers are better than that. They still have possibilities this season, but they must defeat a bottom feeder this week to begin realizing them.
Yahoo says they’ve been there before: “Their task over the next five weeks is a familiar one to the veterans. They were 7-5 and had to win four straight to make the playoffs in 2005. They did just that, and then swept all four in the postseason on the road to win Super Bowl XL.”
Big Ben will be back. The Steelers need to take their medicine and whip those dirty Raiders. Then all will be well.