Steel City wake-up: morning links
The Steelers have made offensive line a top priority in recent drafts, but it is still the same old story with their front five.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continues to get hit early and often, and the 10th-year veteran is on pace to get sacked 59 times after Oakland dropped him five times this past Sunday.
Injuries scrambled the offensive line a week after the unit played its best game of the season, and the losses of guards Ramon Foster and David DeCastro made it tough for the Steelers to generate any kind of running game.
A 21-18 loss to the Raiders sends the Steelers back to the drawing board. They are 2-5, and next up is a trip to New England where they face Tom Brady and the 6-2 Patriots.
The Steelers opened as seven-point underdogs, which is not surprising given their road woes and the fact that Brady has only lost twice to them in eight previous meetings.
A loss in New England would leave the Steelers with two wins at the midway point of the season. And it seems reasonable to assume that they will play with more of a sense of urgency than they did in Oakland.
The Steelers players, while down after a third consecutive loss in Oakland, are not giving up on the season. But it is an understatement to say they face an uphill climb just to put themselves in playoff contention.
Winning the division is even more of a long shot after the Bengals trounced the Jets for their sixth win in eight games. The Steelers are still looking up at every team in the AFC North, including the Browns.