Raiders 27, Steelers 24: You Can’t Leave Bruce Gradkowski That Much Time, He’ll Carve You Up

There’s no easier, more infallible way to tell your team’s season is over than when you issue the following statement unironically:

“Crap, I think we scored to quick, we definitely left Bruce Gradkowski too much time.”

As soon as I uttered that sentence, a giant rift in the earth opened up and swallowed the Steelers and their slim playoff hopes along with it, leaving behind nothing on this terrestrial earth in the team’s place other than the refreshingly definitive notion that the Steelers will be drafting a corner in the first round this year.

I realize Troy Polamalu is out, but my God, could anyone have ever foreseen the defense playing this consistently terribly? I had absolutely no confidence that the team was gonna stop the Raiders on any of their three fourth-quarter touchdown drives, including the last one beginning from the 10 with 90 seconds remaining in the game and Oakland needing a touchdown. Last season, I would’ve been more confident that the Steelers would’ve caused a sack-fumble for a touchdown than for them to give up two consecutive first downs, let alone a 90-yard game-winning touchdown drive at home to Bruce Gradkowski and a bunch of receivers whose names had never been uttered before on this earth before their respective 50-yard game-breaking receptions.

The Raiders loss also featured some brand-new, never-before-seen Steeler mistakes that definitely don’t in any way remind us of their previous five losses this season:

— Roethlisberger throws interception in the red zone.

— Failed fourth-and-short in the red zone.

— Impossibly easy dropped interception that would’ve ended the game.

— Constant inability by the defense to get off the field on third down.

— Missed field goal.

— Total inability by the secondary to come anywhere near covering complete nobody receivers.

— Roethlisberger being required to evade three defenders every single time the other team blitzed, only to eventually dump the ball off to a safety valve option for a short gain and make you wonder “Isn’t the entire point of having a safety valve for the quarterback so he DOESN’T have to evade three defenders in the pocket? Cause if you keep requiring the quarterback to do that, you’re going to lose a bunch of games.”

Also, where does Ryan Mundy’s back-to-back headshots on William Gay and a Raiders receiver on an already-incomplete pass for a personal foul rank on the all-time most pathetic two-play sequences by a Steeler player? It has to be right near the top, if we exclude entries by pre-Roethlisberger Steeler quarterbacks (if we count those, Mundy’s still probably in the top five thousand).

Fortunately, I limited my F-words amidst the worst Steelers secondary performance since the days of Washington, Scott and/or Donnell Woolford, mostly because the past three weeks have completely numbed me in the face of extremely foreseeable Steeler screwups. And now, mercifully, their limping turd of season is over. There’s just no way this team can hang with AFC powerhouses like the JACKSONVILLE FRICKIN’ JAGUARS WHO ARE NOW AHEAD OF THEM IN THE STANDINGS ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

Fine, so maybe I’m not totally over it. But on the plus side, when Josh Cribbs runs back two touchdowns against them in Cleveland Thursday night, at least it won’t hurt their playoff chances any more.

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