The Oakland Raiders had an excellent game against their historic rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Terrelle Pryor provided the fireworks early, as he started the game off with a 93-yard touchdown run. Other than his explosive run, the Raiders failed to mount much momentum on offense. The Raiders defense bailed the offense out with their best performance of the year. Overall, it was an impressive win for the Raiders coming off of a bye against a team that was on the upswing.
Let’s take a look at the good and the bad from the Raiders’ win over the rival Steelers.
1. The Oakland Raiders’ defense shuts down the Steelers:
The defense for the Raiders was outstanding against the Steelers. They had Ben Roethlisberger under constant pressure and provided no holes in the running game. The defense combined for five sacks and added another five hits on Big Ben. The biggest stat for the Raiders was their 11 tackles for a loss, as they constantly kept the Steelers pushed back into third and long.
Rookie Sio Moore had a breakthrough performance for the Raiders’ defense. He was tied for the team lead in tackles with six total. He also led the team in sacks and tackles for a loss with two apiece. It was a glimpse at the talented linebacker’s ability to make plays, especially behind the line of scrimmage.
If the Raiders can get Moore going, then it would be a major addition to their defense. The Raiders’ defense has performed admirably during the first half of the season, but they are missing the presence of a true playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Moore has the ability and Sunday was a big step in the right direction.
Lamarr Houston had a big game, as well. He added a sack and two tackles for a loss, as he showed his ability to be the leader of the defense. He was able to bounce back from a rough outing against the Chiefs.
For the first time in a long while, the Raiders defense has not been the reason they lose games. Only two teams have scored more than 24 points against averaged giving up nearly 30 per game last year. The schedule lightens up in the next couple weeks and it could be a good time to get the defense in the zone.
2. The Raiders’ running attack finds it rhythm:
The Raiders’ rush offense exploded in big way on Sunday. The team combined for 197 yards with Terrelle Pryor leading the way with 106. Darren McFadden added 73 yards on the ground, as well.
Pryor set the tone for the game with the very first play of the game. The Raiders went with the read-option and the end crashed down on the running back, which lead to Pryor keeping the ball and going 93-yards down the field. The Steelers defense parted like red sea and Pryor used that 4.4 speed to blow pass the second level of defense. The 93-yard run set an NFL record for the longest run for a quarterback. The 106 rushing yards were the second highest output of the season for Pryor.
McFadden had one of his most productive days on the season with 73 yards and two touchdowns. The 73 yards were his second highest output of the season, behind his 129 yard performance against Jacksonville. In the first half, McFadden was effective in the first half, but would struggle in the second half as he ended with a three-yards per carry average.
The 197 yards rushing was the Raiders’ best performance of the season, if you do not count their game against the woeful Jaguars. It is great sign that they were able to get the running game going against a team that had been on the upswing. The Steelers had held their previous two opponents to under 100 yards rushing. It was an excellent bounce back performance that could provide some confidence for the offense moving forward.
1. Terrelle Pryor and the passing game:
Pryor had a rough game throwing the ball against the Steelers and their veteran secondary. He was 10-for-19 for just 88 yards and two interceptions. His 25.7 quarterback rating was the lowest mark of his career and even lower than his performance than his outing against the Chiefs. His inability to get things moving through the air played a major role in the Raiders failure to move the ball in the second half.
It was a major step backwards for the promising year that Pryor has had so far. He was not helped out by the ultra-conservative game plan put in place, but he needs to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to him.
He was also sloppy with his decision making, as he turned the ball over twice. His first interception led to the Steelers first field goal of the day. His second interception nearly led to points for the Steelers right before the half, but the kicker missed the field goal.
Pryor needs to get the passing game going, especially when the rushing game is being effective. The lack of passing game allowed the Steelers to stack the box and the rushing attack suffered greatly. Pryor needs to make plays through the air for the Raiders to be truly successful.
2. The Raiders’ offense in the second half:
The Raiders’ offense in the second half was absolutely putrid. The Raiders gained only 35 yards and a single first down in the second half. The passing game was missing all game and the running game suffered for it, as the Steelers packed the box with defenders.
Looking at the drive chart, it is not pretty at all. The Raiders had seven possessions in the second half, and six of them ended in punts. The other possession ended on a Jacoby Ford fumble. Five of the six possessions ending in punts were from drives that went three and out. Three of their seven drives ended with the Raiders losing yards.
Unable to maintain any time of possession in the second half, the Raiders allowed the Steelers to work their way back into the game. The Raiders’ offense nearly wasted an amazing game from their defense. The offense was bailed out by the defense in the second half, as they grabbed two turnovers. If they are unable to move the ball for long stretches of time against better teams, then they will get burned by it eventually.