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It's going to be a long three weeks
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I don't think the world can handle three more weeks of this.

As if their bumblebee throwback uniforms weren't enough of a distraction, the Steelers decided to give the NFL a good chuckle by confidently strolling out Byron Leftwich as the starting quarterback Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

I guess the Mayans had it right all along.

While the usual starter Ben Roethlisberger watched from the bench with his arm in a sling, Leftwich completed 18-of-39 passes for a measly 201 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times for a loss of 24 yards.

It was Leftwich's first NFL start in three seasons and you wonder if he really deserves another one after Sunday's display.

Watching a "Gilmore Girls" marathon would have been more enjoyable than what Steelers fans had to suffer through on Sunday. Leftwich was slow, inaccurate and worst of all, he seemed to have almost no grasp of how to run an NFL offense.

Take Pittsburgh's possession at the end of the third quarter for example. On 2nd-and-10 from the Baltimore 12-yard line, Leftwich lost track of how much time was left on the play clock. The Steelers frantically had to call a timeout to avoid a 5-yard delay of game penalty.

An 8-yard dump-off to running back Jonathan Dwyer gave the Steelers a 3rd- and-2 opportunity from the Baltimore four. A score here would have tied the game at 13.

So what did Leftwich do? He almost let the play clock run out again, forcing Pittsburgh to waste its second timeout of the half. Leftwich heaved up another incomplete pass on the following play to kill the drive.

Bring on the field goal unit.

Still trailing by three late in the game, Leftwich and the Steelers had the ball at the Ravens' 43 on 2nd-and-11. A first down would have put Pittsburgh in field goal range.

Instead Leftwich pulled a Chuck Knoblauch and threw the ball straight into the dirt. E-4.

Even the usually witty Chris Collinsworth was speechless after the play. "That's just a big miss," he mustered after a few seconds of stunned silence.

Receiver Mike Wallace looked just as shocked as the ball bounced about a yard in front of him.

A play later, Leftwich, who has never been known for his mobility, stood in the pocket searching for an open receiver down-field. Rather than throwing the ball away, Leftwich allowed the Baltimore pass rush to get to him for a 7- yard loss. Pittsburgh punted from midfield on the next snap.

Pittsburgh's final possession included several more Leftwich miscues including a comically short Hail Mary attempt and a botched snap. Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw finally put an end to the madness by recovering a Steelers fumble as the clock struck zero.

It was a symphony of awfulness, a festival of ineptitude. And it made fantasy owners want to rip their hair out.

With Roethlisberger likely to miss at least the next three weeks, it looks like the Steelers' passing game will be in disarray for the foreseeable future.

Their deep wizard Wallace (four catches, 26 yards on Sunday) can kiss the end zone goodbye. PPR legend Heath Miller (two grabs, 22 yards) can forget about his quest for a new career-high in receptions. Jerricho Cotchery might as well leave his gloves on the sideline. They're not going to help.

Even the running back trio of Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman could suffer in the absence of Roethlisberger.

If the Steelers can't get their passing game going early, they could find themselves playing from behind pretty frequently. If that happens, Pittsburgh would likely be forced to abandon the running game as part of a seemingly endless cycle of Leftwich-inflicted fantasy destruction.

To make matters worse, Leftwich might not even play next week against Cleveland thanks to a rib injury he suffered at the end of the game.

Who will the Steelers go with on Sunday if Leftwich is unavailable? You guessed it, third-stringer Charlie Batch, a journeyman who made his NFL debut back when Tim Tebow was still in the sixth grade.

I know it's a long-shot, but does anybody know if Shane Falco still plays?




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.