By Danny Cox
Thursday night’s game had the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to Tennessee to take on the Titans in what was expected to be a rather easy win. The Steelers had healed up and gotten to a point where they had their defensive specialists back from injury, and things seemed to be looking up.
In stepped Rob Bironas and he booted a 40-yard field goal as time expired to sink the Steelers and send them to their third straight road loss this season. The loss in Tennessee also marked their fifth road loss in six games dating back to last season.
Sure, it’s hard to stop a last-second field goal, but everyone needs to look at the bigger picture.
With a mere eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers went up 23-16 after scoring 13 straight points to take the lead. Tennessee came out with back-up Matt Hasselbeck hitting Kenny Britt for a tying touchdown to go along with the final field goal.
Pittsburgh has five more road games this season including the Giants, Ravens, and Cowboys. The Chargers, Ravens, and Redskins will still be heading into Heinz Field to face off with the Steelers so it isn’t as if their home schedule is any easier.
Right now, the Steelers are facing the possibility of not even making the playoffs at all.
Making matters worse is the injuries they are facing. Yes, it’s true that a bye week and then win over Philadelphia helped them heal up and escape without injury, but things got bad in Tennessee.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who just recently made his way back from injury, went down with an Achilles injury, but the team doesn’t think it is very serious. The fact that running back Ike Redman injured his ankle as well in the third quarter against the Titans is rather serious.
Pittsburgh was already looking at the 28th ranked running attack in the NFL. This isn’t going to help things.
Center Maurkice Pouncey injured his right leg on the Steelers‘ very first play on Thursday night. He was gone for the rest of the game, but they’re hoping he doesn’t miss much time.
Heading down the line a little bit, right tackle Marcus Gilbert injured his right ankle in the second quarter. Gilbert had also just recently gotten back on the field after nursing an injury.
Pouncey’s absence shouldn’t be that long and it also won’t be that bad for the Steelers as they have capable fill-ins for him.
It is the loss of Gilbert again that could spell trouble for Pittsburgh and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Rookie Mike Adams took over for Gilbert on Thursday after the injury took out the veteran. A Steelers drive stalled later in the game when Adams was beaten by Tennessee’s Derrick Morgan and Big Ben hit the ground for a sack.
The Steelers aren’t quite there yet, but are close to staring desperation in the face, and they’ve got to hope that it never gets to their eye-level. The first test comes next weekend when they travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals.
Evening their record and getting back .500 is the step number one.
Avoiding injuries and getting on some kind of a roll is what they need to do next. If they can’t do both of those, then the home games near the end of the season won’t even matter for the Steelers as they’ll already be out of the playoff hunt.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Steelers news, see CBS Sports Pittsburgh.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.