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Steelers' run to division title gets short-circuited

It was all there for the Pittsburgh Steelers to take.

The inside track for the top seed in the AFC playoffs, a game up on the Ravens for the division title, a chance for a bye week.

Instead, the Steelers short-circuited Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.

Ben Roethlisberger didn't have the magic this time, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. It was a heroic effort by Roethlisberger to take the field, but the performance wasn't there.

The usually strong defense gave up 20 points to a team that's struggled scoring touchdowns.

One night earlier, the Ravens lost on their trip cross country to face the San Diego Chargers. You would think the Steelers would have taken notice.

Instead, the Steelers flopped on Monday Night, a game that was delayed 35 minutes by two power outages at Candlestick Park.

The power certainly was missing from the offense.

Now the Steelers will need a Christmas miracle to gain the division title.

It looks like any path to the Super Bowl will be on the road.


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So much for Byron the great backup

I never understood the Steelers' fascination with their backup quarterbacks.

They've had either Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for what seems like ages now.

And when the Steelers really needed a backup, Leftwich couldn't deliver.

Leftwich rambled 31 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Ravens, but other than that burst, the Steelers couldn't do anything on offense in a 13-10 loss that puts them in a bad position in the AFC North.

Leftwich, with his long delivery, looks better suited for the Pirates' bullpen than behind center.

He went 18-for-39 passing for 201 yards, but couldn't help a Steelers' offense that looks lost right now.

The Ravens came into the game with a weak defense. The thought was Leftwich could manage the game, the Steelers could find a running back to rely on and they'd escape with a win.

It didn't work out that way.

And it looks like we could see Batch at QB this week -- or someone else.

The Steelers are worried about Leftw…