Though the players won't admit it, it has become painfully apparent the Steelers' secondary just cannot play without strong safety Troy Polamalu.
Without anybody in their secondary other than Polamalu who can consistently catch the ball, the Steelers just don't scare anybody.
Oakland's Bruce Gradkowski threw a number of balls up for grabs in Sunday's 27-24 win over the Steelers and the Raiders either came down with the pass or saw it fall harmlessly to the ground.
We already knew that catching the football was not Ike Taylor's strong point, but now it's become apparent that neither can anyone else, sans Polamalu.
And the group is also playing without any confidence as well. It's not a good combination.
Opponents are obviously targeting Willie Gay play after play and Gay has not been up to the challenge at all.
In fact, after Gay was beaten a couple of times Sunday, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau just started sending him on corner blitzes.
I guess if you can't cover, you might as well go after the quarterback.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said Sunday that the team will consider changes in its lineup. The only changes they could make defensively would probably be in the secondary – though the run defense allowed more than 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive game.
All you need to know about the difference between the Steelers defense of 2008 and the 2009 version is that Gradkowski completed five of 16 passes for 18 yards and two interceptions against them last season. Sunday, he threw for more than 300 yards with three touchdown passes.
© I've taken heat all season long for blaming the defense for not holding leads late in games.
That was again the case Sunday. Anybody want to defend the indefensible defense this week?
© I was not a big fan of Tomlin's decision to attempt a 53-yard field goal on the opening play of the fourth quarter and even after Tomlin's explanation that Jeff Reed had been making them from there before the game, I'm still not.
With a four-point lead, why punt there and make the Raiders - who had not shown anything offensively to that point - drive the length of the field?
By giving Oakland the ball at its own 43, all the Raiders needed was 20 yards to get into field goal range. They did better than that, scoring the first of three fourth quarter touchdowns.
© Rashard Mendenhall did not have a carry in the entire second quarter.
He didn't even set foot on the field as Willie Parker was given two consecutive series of play - the first a two-play touchdown drive – while Mewelde Moore was in on the final possession of the second quarter in the two-minute offense.
I'm all for keeping everyone involved, but that's taking it to the extreme.
© Ben Roethlisberger made one bad mistake in this one, throwing a pick from the Oakland 16 late in the first half.
He forced that throw to Hines Ward, who was open coming out of his break, but certainly was not once Roethlisberger let go of the ball.
It was the only sign of post-concussion play that Roethlisberger really showed.