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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oakland debacle

Ben Roethlisberger wanted more responsibility this season and he’s gotten it. Thus far, the third-year quarterback doesn’t appear ready to handle that kind of load.

He looked a lot more like Tommy Maddox Sunday than a quarterback who won a Super Bowl last season.

© Another week, another bad performance by the offensive line and right tackle Max Starks in particular.

But here’s betting you won’t hear Starks called out for his poor play by too many TV types in Pittsburgh. Starks is always quick with a quote and the TV types love to talk to him because he’s so well spoken.

Starks looked lost, however, trying to block Derrick Burgess Sunday.

I don’t know that the Chris Kemoeatu experiment at right guard is going to last all that long either. The big fella didn’t exactly dominate in the run game and his pass blocking looked pretty shoddy to say the least.

But Kendall Simmons was one of just three Steelers who dressed and did not play Sunday - Rodney Bailey and Charlie Batch were the other two – so maybe head coach Bill Cowher is preparing for the future.

© The play-calling Sunday by offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was questionable at times to say the least.

We saw way too much of the four and five-wide receiver packages when the team was in short yardage situations. That tells me the Steelers don’t have any faith in their ability to run the ball and get a yard or two when needed.

Maybe Duce Staley will be the answer. Staley will be active from here on out with Verron Haynes being done for the season with a left leg injury.

© When it’s thought that Staley might be a savior, the team’s in trouble.

© Where was Cowher’s spit and fire when the defense was getting penalized for unsportsmanlike penalties on back-to-back plays?

Maybe the head coach is resigned to the fact that this is just not a good football team.

© Oakland averaged 0.9 yards per pass play, 2.9 yards per rushing play and 2.0 yards per play overall and won.

After 14 years of covering the NFL, I have officially seen it all.

At least in 2002 when Tommy Maddox single-handedly handed Houston a win with a performance like the one Roethlisberger had Sunday, the Texans’ defense stopped the Steelers on occasion.

The only thing stopping the Steelers Sunday was the Steelers.

© Shane Lechler was Oakland’s most valuable player in this game. The Raiders’ punter continually put the Steelers deep in their own territory to start drives, forcing them into bad situations.

© With this team floundering so badly, you can forget those Cowher retirement rumors. Cowher is now going to have to come back in 2007 to prove that he can turn this thing around after a 6-10 or 7-9 season.

Then again, at this point, 7-9 would be an achievement in itself with this squad.

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