The Pittsburgh Steelers looked like they had a little magic left in the final seconds of their road game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon. Alas, after an incredible pass to James Washington from Ben Roethlisberger that was lateralled to JuJu Smith-Schuster to get the Steelers to the 20-yard line ended all hope for a miracle win when placekicker Chris Boswell lost his footing and the field goal - for the win - was blocked. Final score: Raiders 24- Steelers 20.
So many things could have gone differently for Pittsburgh on the day. It'd be easy to say that a hard hit on Roethlisberger (and his being forced into the locker room for treatment) that led to Joshua Dobbs being asked to take his first significant snaps was a reason the team lost. You could point the finger at the defensive backs who had opportunities on the ball and dropped potential interceptions. Had Keith Butler not asked linebackers to cover key receivers once again this week, maybe the Steelers wouldn't have had to go for a late comeback, to begin with.
In the end, the story of Sunday is a diagram of the inefficiencies of the Steelers have shown over the course of their past four games. If you want to get truly honest, they're deficiencies they've had all season long in 2018... but were able to disguise or at least overcome during their stretch of back-to-back wins.
Steelers fans will be audibly and visibly upset over a loss to a Raiders team that was less talented and has played poorly all season. The Steelers, as a team, could have won the game just on the number of penalty yards the Raiders committed had they executed. Execution, however, has been one of the glaring inadequacies for this Steelers squad all season. You can blame coaching all you want, but with a breakdown of execution on the field, it doesn't matter if you bring out three suitcases of cleats to help your guys from slip-n-sliding all over the wet turf at the Coliseum. The Steelers could have brought out 10 truckloads and it likely would have made little difference.
The Steelers didn't win because they did not do what it took to win. They may have played hard (and there really is no such thing as hard-enough), but the quality of their play is what sealed a loss in a game against a team they should have dominated. Instead, they were unable to create any points in between times that Roethlisberger was on the field (inexcusable) and will travel home with a ton of regrets after allowing the game to remain as close as it did.