PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The Pittsburgh Steelers, who seemed to be turning their season around with two straight victories, turned it right back around with a bumbling loss in Oakland.
The Steelers are looking hard at a 2-6 record halfway through the season because they play Sunday at New England, where they have never beaten the Patriots with Tom Brady and have had little success through the years.
They last started 2-6 in their Super Bowl hangover year of 2006, Bill Cowher's final season when they recovered in the second half to finish 8-8.
Recovery is about all they can hope for today.
"We still got a season," cornerback Ike Taylor said. "We still got games left."
Indeed, nine of them. Enough time to recover, enough time to fold like no Steelers team has in quite some time. Their worst record in this century was 6-10 in 2003, their last season with a losing record. Before that, 5-11 in 1988.
What is troubling for them is they came up with injuries that forced three more offensive linemen out of their 21-18 loss to the Raiders on Sunday. That line already contributed to a poor running game and a poor record of protecting Ben Roethlisberger, who has already been sacked 26 times in seven games. That is a pace of 59, nine more than his previous career high in 2009.
They have three rushing touchdowns and have allowed nine, including three by the Raiders.
"We felt like we were doing some good things, and that we were getting better," said Roethlisberger, at a loss to explain what has happened.