The line, however, is only a portion of the problem. The defense spent the days leading up to the game praising Pryor and insisting they would be wary of the quarterback’s blazing speed. Then on the game’s opening snap, Pryor faked a handoff to Darren McFadden, tucked the ball under his arm and headed right. One block from wide receiver Rod Streater is all Pryor needed to race 93 yards to the end zone, the longest run by a quarterback in NFL history.
Pryor’s fake was so convincing free safety Ryan Clark didn’t even realize Pryor had the ball until Clark was getting ready to jump on a pile he believed included McFadden. Instead, Clark ended up looking to his left just before assisting on what he thought would be a tackle. By then Pryor was already in the clear and the Steelers were already in serious trouble.
“Obviously we were fooled on the first play,” Clark said. “Everybody floats to McFadden, Terrelle pulls the ball. After that I felt like we settled down.”
By then, however, it was too late.
A botched punt by struggling Zoltan Mesko, two missed chip-shot field goals by normally reliable Shaun Suisham and a pair of costly drops on what would have been difficult catches by Antonio Brown didn’t help.
It led to a long plane ride and the prospect of having to do it again this weekend when the Steelers play at New England (6-2), a place where Pittsburgh has yet to beat Tom Brady.
Brady might be the last of the Steelers’ problems. At the moment, they can’t seem to stop beating themselves.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org