Skip to main content

Pittsburgh Steelers' defense on alert after latest loss

On a day that featured Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 384 yards, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers' vaunted defense that became the story in a 34-31 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

On NFL Replay
NFL Replay
will re-air the Oakland Raiders' 34-31 win over the Pittsburgh  Steelers in Week 3 on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

The Steelers couldn't stop the Raiders down the stretch, allowing quarterback Carson Palmer to guide his team on five consecutive scoring drives, capped by Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning 43-yard field goal in the closing seconds.

Feel free to point to the absences of linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu, but the Steelers have long succeeded at plugging in reserves without skipping a beat. They were beaten at the line of scrimmage Sunday and allowed Palmer to comfortably move the ball in an offensive scheme that hasn't always been a great fit for him.

Palmer completed 23 passes for 209 yards to nine targets. Darren McFadden continued a strong early season with 113 yards on the ground, including a 64-yard touchdown burst. The numbers weren't outlandish, but the way Oakland pressed in on Pittsburgh's defense in the second half has to be a concern for coordinator Dick LeBeau.

The Steelers surrendered 31 points to the Denver Broncos in the opener after giving up 29 to the same team in last year's playoffs. They played physical football against the New York Jets a week ago, but what we saw in Oakland raises questions. Because the Steelers have been so good for so long, it's too early to sound the alarm -- but this defense needs to do more to keep the team alive in the AFC North.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.