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Pittsburgh 23, Syracuse 20: Three Quick Takeaways

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Today marks a fourth consecutive loss for the Orange. Here's what happened...

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse suffered a 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. Here are three quick takeaways before we dive in:

1. Needed That, Didn't Get It

This was a win Syracuse desperately needed if it wants any hopes of going to a bowl game. I wrote last week that those hopes could be thrown out the window with a loss, and now they really should be tossed away. There were a number of reasons the Orange lost, but once again, the defense couldn't come up with a stop on a key drive in the fourth quarter.

At 3-4, SU is entering the gauntlet of its schedule, which features -- in order -- Florida State, Louisville, Clemson and N.C. State. Remember when you dreaded a 3-0 start en route to a 3-9 final record? Well, that's what could be happening.

2. Dungey Returns After Helmet-to-Helmet Hit

Early in the third quarter, disaster nearly struck again for Syracuse. After taking a helmet-to-helmet hit, Eric Dungey lay motionless on the Carrier Dome turf, just as he did after taking a helmet-to-helmet against Central Michigan on Sept. 19. Dungey popped back up without any help, but he was still taken to the locker room to be evaluated.

This time, though, Dungey (presumably) passed the concussion protocol and was back for the next series. It's impossible to say for sure whether there was causation, but he was less than sharp upon returning. After going 15-of-20 with two touchdowns and no interceptions before leaving the game, he threw interceptions on consecutive series after re-entering. And with that, SU couldn't muster up much offensively -- only three second-half points -- and lost in-part because of it.

3. Taste of Your Own Medicine
After Syracuse stopped Pittsburgh on a crucial third-and-7 in the fourth quarter, the Panthers did what the Orange have done so often this season: ran a fake. Pitt punter Ryan Winslow rolled to his right and was met behind the line of scrimmage, but he calmly threw the ball forward to Matt Galambos for a first down.

Pittsburgh then expertly milked the clock with multiple first downs and kicker Chris Blewitt put a 24-yard, game-winning field goal through the uprights as the clock hit triple zeros.