Slip, sliding away

OAKLAND _ After yet another game had slipped away, the Steelers' frustration was on display.

It was easy to see, easy to hear and easy to appreciate in the aftermath of Raiders 24, Steelers 21 on Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

"It just frickin' (stinks)," defensive end Cam Heyward offered. "These three-point games, it (stinks) to be on the wrong end of them."

The loss to the Raiders came on the heels of a last-play loss to the Chargers on Dec. 2 at Heinz Field, a game that had ended with the Chargers getting three chances to convert the game-winning field goal due to penalties and finally hitting the third for a 33-30 decision.

The loss to the Chargers had been preceded by a 24-17 loss on Nov. 25 in Denver, a game that hadn't been decided until quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception in the end zone on third-and-goal from the Broncos 2-yard line with 1:07 left in regulation.

The Raiders wiped out a pair of fourth-quarter deficits with fourth-quarter touchdown passes, then survived Chris Boswell's last-play attempt at a game-tying, 40-yard field goal when Boswell slipped on his approach and kicked the ball into the line.

The Steelers had positioned Boswell for the kick that could have sent the game into overtime on a pass from Roethlisberger to wide receiver James Washington and then a lateral to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster that advanced the ball 48 yards to the Raiders' 22 with five seconds remaining in regulation.

"It's been brutal, man, I'm not going to lie," guard David DeCastro said. "Frustration's definitely setting in, you can see it. It's tough, man, you put a lot of energy into this sport, a lot of work into it. Losing games like this, everyone taking turns, it's just tough."

Added safety Sean Davis: "Y'all can tell, the whole locker room is sick."

The Steelers' third-straight loss dropped them to 7-5-1 on the season.

"This one (stinks), man, this one hurts," center Maurkice Pouncey said.

The Steelers have a half-game lead over Baltimore (7-6-0) for first place in the AFC North Division.

"Everything's still ahead of us," DeCastro said. "We still control it, right? That's a little silver lining but, yeah, it's been brutal.

"It's a three-week season, that's all we got. If you could look back to the beginning of the season and say we'd be at this point now, leading the division still, right? Let's go get it."

SHAKING IT OFF: The Steelers acknowledged bouncing back from three gut-punching losses in succession will challenge their resolve.

And that it has to be done.

"We have no choice," Pouncey said. "We have to go out there and play our hardest, go out there and execute at a high level.

"We gotta stop b.s.-ing around. We can't hope for any other team (to lose). The 53 guys we have on our team gotta go out here and win football games."

Outside linebacker T.J. Watt said the ability to bounce back "really depends on the person.

"I can put it behind me," Watt continued. "Everything happens too fast. We have a game in six-and-a-half days.

"You can't harp on it, you definitely have to learn from it but you gotta move on."

The game Watt referenced is this Sunday at Heinz Field against the Patriots.

"We'll see what this team's made of next week, for sure," DeCastro said.

STILL CONFIDENT: Boswell missed from 39 yards in the second quarter and on the last-play, 40-yard attempt.

"Obviously, I slipped a little bit," he said of the final try. "All I know is I went to plant and ended up on my face."

Boswell has missed six field goals and five extra points this season.

His third PAT against the Raiders hit the right upright but bounced through.

"It's terrible," Boswell assessed. "What else do you want me to say?"

His confidence, Boswell insisted, remains in tact, as does his determination to work through his inconsistency.

"You just have to keep going," he said. "I mean, every kicker, every player, every position goes through kind of a downfall. You just have to find your footing and get back up. Just like any other slump in the world, you just gotta, I mean, keep shooting, keep kicking, keep doing what you're doing.

"Got here for a reason."

THEY SAID IT: "We all need to look in the mirror and figure out what's going on. It starts with each individual needs to look inside first." _ Roethlisberger.

"We're just gonna take it personal, just continue to work, keep our heads up. We have three more (games), three more guaranteed." _ Davis.

"You'll have winning streaks and losing streaks, just gotta prepare for the next one." _ nickel cornerback Mike Hilton.

"You better be able to take whatever and keep moving on. We gotta find a way to get over the top. The answers are in this locker room. We gotta find a way to get the 'W.'" _ Heyward.

Game action photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 14 game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum.

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