Pittsburgh Steelers: The five worst losses of the Mike Tomlin era
3. 2018, Week 14: Raiders 24, Steelers 21
For some reason, the Steelers cannot win in Oakland. Even with a future Hall-of-Famer in Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are 0-4 in the Black Hole. If there was any time to bounce back from this, it was in 2018.
The Raiders were terrible in 2018. Their offense was far below average and their defense was an embarrassment. A loss to this team would be inexcusable.
The Steelers had a decent first half, scoring on two of their four first half possessions. A hit to Ben Roethlisberger on their third drive of the game caused Big Ben to stay in the locker room when the team hit the field for the second half.
The Steelers’ offense was insignificant with Josh Dobbs at the helm. They could only muster 58 total yards on four possessions under Dobbs, including an interception and a turnover-on-downs on a terrible two-play combination for third- and fourth-down.
After their fourth failed drive under Dobbs, Oakland took a 17-14 lead. The next drive, Big Ben came back in the game, after standing on the sideline for at least two of the drives . He immediately led the team down the field to retake the lead 21-17.
Oakland stormed back the next drive and scored on fourth-and-goal to take a 24-21 lead with only 21 seconds remaining. The Steelers ran a hook-and-ladder play to JuJu Smith-Schuster and managed to get down to the Oakland 22-yard line, but Chris Boswell slipped on the attempted field goal to tie the game.
Tomlin admitted after the game that Big Ben could have gone back in the game sooner, which was not well received. Even though the Steelers defense seemed to keep the Raiders at bay, the Steelers had no wiggle room in the playoff hunt. They couldn’t afford to let a bad team like Oakland hang around, especially when the offense was completely lifeless under Josh Dobbs.
Mike Tomlin also received criticism for the way he managed the clock on Oakland’s possession that gave them the lead late in the game. David Carr hit Seth Roberts for a 39-yard gain to the Steelers’ 7-yard line. With two timeouts at his disposal, Tomlin could have called a timeout with as much as 1:53 remaining on the clock, but chose to let the clock run.
The decision to keep Ben Roethlisberger out of the game was later pinned on an inclusive x-ray from the poor medical equipment at Oakland’s stadium. The decision to keep Ben on the sideline, along with the clock management near the end of the game, puts this game as one of Mike Tomlin’s most poorly-coached games.