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At a loss for words: Steelers collapse late, fall to Raiders

September 24, 2012
The Associated Press , The Altoona Mirror

OAKLAND, Calif. - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Sunday's loss to the Oakland Raiders was the fault of the whole team.

Safety Ryan Clark said the collapse was his fault for "not making sure everybody's where they need to be and understanding the urgency of the moment."

Defensive end Brett Keisel said to "blame this loss on me" because "I messed up some things that resulted in touchdowns."

Article Photos

The Associated Press
Ben Roethlisberger had a huge day but was left hanging his head walking off the field following the Steelers’ last-second loss to the Raiders on?Sunday.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown referred to his fourth-quarter fumble as something that "shouldn't happen."

Heading into the bye week, the Steelers have plenty of blame to go around.

The Raiders scored the final 13 points after wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was knocked out and hospitalized by a scary hit, sending the Steelers to a 34-31 loss when Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired.

"That was a poor performance by us," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "You're going to lose games when you play like that, as we did today. We have to chew on this one for a while. It's not going to go down easy, as it should not go down easy. But it won't define us. We'll go back to work. We'll continue to search for areas of improvement, which are many."

Early in the fourth quarter, Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious by a helmet-to-helmet hit in the end zone by Steelers safety Ryan Mundy that was not called a penalty by the replacement officials. Heyward-Bey was taken to the hospital with a neck injury.

Carson Palmer then threw his third touchdown pass for Oakland (1-2) and Janikowski kicked two field goals to beat the Steelers (1-2) and give coach Dennis Allen his first win.

The Raiders took over with the game tied at their 25 with 1:42 remaining. Palmer got the drive going with a 24-yard pass to Brandon Myers on third-and-10 and then hit Derek Hagan on a 17-yard pass down to the Pittsburgh 26 with 27 seconds left.

Oakland ran down the clock to set up Janikowski's winning kick that sent the crowd into delirium less than an hour after silence overtook the stadium when Heyward-Bey was injured.

"It's tough," said Mundy, sitting in the far corner of the Steelers' locker room. "He has a job just like I have a job. Anytime that he's not able to perform his job because of injury, that's tough as a player. We don't play like that. We don't try to injury people or anything like that. We understand this is people's livelihood. We take that serious."

Mundy's helmet hit Heyward-Bey in the facemask on an incomplete pass in the end zone. Heyward-Bey's neck jerked violently and his head also crashed into the ground. Players from both teams kneeled in prayer as Heyward-Bey was attended to for about 10 minutes. He raised his right hand while being taken off the field on a cart to go to the hospital with a neck injury.

Four plays later, Palmer eluded pressure and found Denarius Moore on a 6-yard touchdown pass that brought Oakland within 31-28 with 12:13 remaining.

Raiders cornerback Pat Lee then forced a fumble downfield by Brown that Philip Wheeler recovered at the Oakland 36. Palmer drove the Raiders down the field and tied the game on a 32-yard field goal by Janikowski with 6:30 to play.

"Their defense made the stops when they needed to, and we didn't," Clark said. "It wasn't from a lack of trying. Maybe it was trying too hard. I know myself I was just, gotta be everywhere, gotta make a play. I take blame it even got to that point, because we kept giving up scores."

With the Steelers missing Pro Bowl defensive stalwarts Troy Polamalu (calf) and James Harrison (knee), the Raiders were able to move the ball effectively most of the game.

Darren McFadden ran for 113 yards, including a 64-yard TD burst in the first quarter that surpassed his rushing total from the first two games of the season combined.

Palmer overcame an interception on the first play of the game to go 24 for 34 for 209 yards and three touchdowns, including a 3-yarder to Heyward-Bey late in the first half.

But Roethlisberger was even better, throwing two TD passes to Heath Miller in the first quarter, as well as third-quarter scores to Mike Wallace and Brown. Roethlisberger finished 36 for 49 for 384 yards as Oakland failed to generate any sustained pass rush.

But Roethlisberger failed to convert a third-and-9 under pressure following the two-minute warning to give Oakland the chance at the winning score.

As if the loss wasn't bad enough, the Steelers will have some extra time to deal with the loss. They don't play again until hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 7.

"We let them come back and get the win," Keisel said. "We got to chew on it, and we got to chew on it for two weeks."

NOTES: Myers left the game with a concussion on the final drive. ... Hall of Famer Marcus Allen lit the torch honoring late owner Al Davis in a sign that his long-running feud with the organization has ended. ... Miller has four TD catches in three games.

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