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Steelers vs. Raiders: Defense explains recent struggles

Following Sunday's disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has allowed a combined 31 points in the first half and 30 points in the fourth quarter through three games this season. As if that wasn't enough, head coach Mike Tomlin elected to attempt a late fourth quarter, fourth-down conversion deep in Pittsburgh territory during a tie-game because he didn't trust the defense.

For members of the unit, they understand why their coach would make such a decision. Via

"I know when our offense goes out there and puts that many points on the board, they're giving us an opportunity to win the game," said Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley. "It's our responsibility on the defense to go out there and shut teams down, and we didn't do that."

With linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu out of the lineup, some have noted that their absence is the reason why the unit is struggling. However, free safety Ryan Clark doesn't think thats the case and believes the defense's issues are arising because players aren't focusing on their jobs and are trying to do too much.

"We've played games without those guys before. It really wasn't anything (Oakland) did. We just tried to do too much. We don't even need to look at the tape to see that."

Harrison and Polamalu are both expected to return to the lineup following the bye week.

For more on the Steelers, please be sure to check out our blog Behind The Steel Curtain and SB Nation Pittsburgh for all the latest news and updates.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.