Raiders vs. Steelers: A Forgotten Rivalry


Nov 21, 2010; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; General view of the line of scrimmage as Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurice Pouncey (53) snaps the ball against the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The Oakland Raiders vs The Pittsburg Steelers, at one time was one of the most physical, competitive, fierce, over the top game of the month, year, even century. The Play-offs were tied to this game and bragging rights for who was the toughest kid in the neighborhood.

The entire football world would stand at attention and take notice.

The Immaculate Reception: The rivalry started on December 23, 1972. The Raiders were heavily favored as they entered Three Rivers Stadium to face the upstart Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC divisional playoff game. The winner would face off against the undefeated Miami Dolphins. The Raiders were holding tight to a 7-6 lead late in the fourth quarter. On fourth and ten with 22 seconds left in the game, Terry Bradshaw dropped back to pass and was flushed from the pocket. As he scrambled he threw over the middle to Frenchy Fuqua. Raiders safety Jack Tatum drilled Fuqua and the ball ricocheted in the air where Franco Harris was able to grab it and run to the goal line as the time expired.

That was then, this is now. There are several generations of proud Raider fans who were not yet born when the ball caromed off of Frenchy Fuqua to the turf and then into Frano Harris’s hands, Bradshaw has been in the broadcast booth and Roethlisberger is taking the snaps for the Steelers. People that are taking notice of the game, they all live in Oakland and Pittsburg.

The Steelers come into Sundays game with lots of questions. Their early record is 1-1 losing to the Broncos on Monday night, and defeating the NY Jets. The Steelers come into this contest averaging 4.6 yards per play. Throwing the ball is what the Steelers do, 46/71 attempts with474 yards. Ben Roethlisberger will bring a 64.8% completion percentage to the contest with his 99.5% QB ranking. Not the nimblest of QB in the NFL he has rushed for 4 yards in the early season.

The running game is done by committee, five different backs. Jonathan Dwyer and Issac Redman carrying the bulk of the load for the Steelers Dywer accounts for 71 yards on the ground as Redman has 45.The running game is a small part of the Steelers game plan but it is valuable enough to hurt you when you don’t expect it.

Ten receivers cover the field for the Steelers. Currently Antonio Brown is a favorite target, 11 receptions for 153 yards and a 13.9 yard average, no touchdowns. He is a controlling receiver for the Steelers with fair hands, and good routs. Mike Wallace is next on the hit chart with 9 catches for 111 yards for a 12.3 average. and he’s visited the end zone twice this season.

Roethlisberger is a big man that stands in the pocket and has excellent vision downfield. He is able to check down to a release receiver or back out of the backfield. He has been known to pull the ball down and rumble for that needed first down to keep the drive alive. He is the leader of the Steelers, how he goes the Steelers go.

This game for the Raiders is a chance to develop a game plan and stay with it (consistency). The run game has stalled and sputtered, without it the Silver and Black cannot solely rely on the erratic throwing of Carson Palmer. Don’t mistake what I say for blame on Palmer, I believe that he is doing well and improving, he has little if no help, the receiving stable of the Raiders is thin, and do I dare say anorexic? For the Raiders to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat they will have to slow the game down and play ball control, move the chains one link at a time. McFadden out of the backfield on a pass pattern will losen up the steel curtain so he can have success running the ball. Palmer can change his tactics of a pocket passer to bootlegs or roll outs. This will help Palmer help himself. This could and should bring positive yardage plays that will help the Raiders offense kill time and keep the chains moving.

The Raider offense may also want to think about a full time fullback, counters, and traps, you never know.

When the offense drives the ball down to FG range kick the ball. Three points is better than none, and with the league’s best kicking duo let those big dogs run!!!

Special team play a big part of the formula for the Raiders to win this week. Special teams has to produce, a blocked punt, a blocked field goal. Long returns on Kick-off and punt returns would set up excellent field position. Starting drives in Steeler territory would be beneficial to the outcome of the game in favor of the Raiders.

The first two games have not been pretty, as a matter fact they were the ugly mules in the barn. Yet, with the guidance and assistance of Coach Allen the Raiders are showing improvement. Wins are on the way.

The game is not for the Raiders to win, It is for them not to lose it. It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts. Just Win Baby!