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JAMES CONNER was injured in the second half of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The official classification is a sprained left ankle, and he’s been ruled out of the upcoming game against the Oakland Raiders, Dec. 9.

After the Steelers lost their second consecutive game to the Chargers on Sunday Night Football at home, Dec. 2, in a game they desperately needed to keep some distance between themselves and the second-place Baltimore Ravens, it became apparent to me, the Steelers aren’t beating good teams.

Of the seven games they’ve won this season, their opponents have a combined record of 35-48-1. None is better than 7-5, which happens to be the Ravens’ record, who have beaten the Steelers once this year.

Of the Steelers’ four losses, the teams have a combined record of 32-16.

Telling, isn’t it?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to recognize the Steelers aren’t winning against good teams. Period.

There are a multitude of problems with this team.

THE LOS ANGELES CHARGERS came into Heinz Field, Dec. 2, and beat the Steelers, 33-30, thanks to a 16-point comeback effort, including a punt return for a touchdown. (Photos by Courier photographer Brian Cook)

First and foremost, the defense isn’t good. It’s just not. They are incapable of getting off the field on third down, the pass defense can’t be counted on and if the front seven can’t get pressure on the quarterback, which they didn’t do against the Chargers, then the big plays happen. Oh, and by the way, they don’t create turnovers.

Championship defenses don’t get two opportunities in the fourth quarter, at home, in prime time, to stop the opponent and prevent a loss and blow those opportunities both times.

Championship defenses don’t blow double-digit leads in the second half.

Championship defenses certainly don’t allow two, two-point conversions.

Yet all of that happened against the Chargers this past Sunday night.

“We just gotta play better,” quipped Cam Heyward after the game.

That’s an understatement, Cam.

He continued: “We want to create an atmosphere where turnovers and sacks go hand-in-hand and we’re not getting them.”

If they don’t get them soon, they may find themselves sitting on the couch in early January once again.

Yet it’s not just the defense; special teams are killing this team, too. Against the Chargers, the special teams missed an extra point, allowed a punt return for a touchdown and jumped offsides three consecutive times on game-winning field goal attempts by the Chargers. It was three times because the Chargers missed the first two kicks. Giving your opponent additional chances, especially on game-winners, is not what championship teams do!

So when does Chris Boswell get looked at as a problem? When does a kicker tryout occur on the South Side? Doesn’t it have to be soon?

If the Steelers are lucky enough to make the playoffs, there are a few things they will certainly need—a defense that can create turnovers and get off the field and a kicker who can make his kicks!

Boswell has missed nine kicks through the first 12 games. Nine. Five of which are extra points. That cannot happen. Good teams don’t allow that to happen.

If the Steelers continue this trend, they are staring at two more losses for sure. How do they beat the Patriots (Dec. 16) and Saints (Dec. 23)? It doesn’t seem possible.

Assuming those losses occur, they must win at Oakland this Sunday, Dec. 9, and close the season out with a “W” against the Bengals, Dec. 30, in order to have a shot at the playoffs.

Since the Steelers do seem to beat the bad teams, I’ll give them a road win at Oakland this Sunday, but I don’t think it will be easy. The Raiders consistently give the Steelers fits and until I see otherwise, I’ll assume they’ll continue to do so.

The Steelers will escape with a victory but it will be another close one, 24-21.

The only reason it will even be a victory is because Oakland makes more blunders than the Steelers do and Oakland isn’t a quality opponent.

However, if the Steelers do eek their way into he postseason, the team(s) they face will have winning records (obviously) so at this point, don’t expect much. The Steelers just don’t beat good teams.

 

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