Oakland Raiders: Keys to Victory Over Pittsburgh Steelers

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Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) runs the ball against the New York Jets in the third quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Jets 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Get The Ground Game Going Early

Also for the second straight week, the Raiders will be squaring off with one of the better run defenses in the league. The Steelers currently rank eighth in the league in run defense, allowing just 97 yards per game.

Just as they did against the Jets, the Raiders are going to want to get Latavius Murray and Taiwan Jones involved in the offense early. Murray took the twenty carries he was given last week and turned it into 113 yards on the ground for the Raiders. He repeatedly gashed the Jets who boast the NFL’s top ranked run defense.

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As good as the Jets are against the run, Murray cut through them like the proverbial hot knife through butter. The Raiders did something they hadn’t done much of this season, which was attack the edges of that New York defensive front. It worked beautifully as Murray repeatedly turned that corner and ripped off big chunks of yardage before the Jets got to him.

And Jones adds a perfect counterweight to the big, powerful Murray. Smaller, elusive, and cat-quick, Jones has weaved his way through defenses all season long. He doesn’t get many opportunities to carry the ball – he has but 12 attempts this season – but he has made the most of them, turning those carries into 70 yards for an average of 5.8 yards per carry.

Let’s also not forget Marcel Reece and Jamize Olawale, whose carries have been rare, but effective. In short yardage situations, the pair of them can be counted on to get the necessary yards.

It is somewhat telling that the Raiders have a league low 27 plays this season that have gone for negative yardage. They haven’t asked their backs to do much, but when they’ve been called upon, they’ve been in good situations to get some positive yards out of it.

Getting the running game going early is going to open up the passing game for Carr and the receivers. It will establish control and the Raiders can then dictate the pace of the game. It’s something they did very well against San Diego and New York, and it is something they will need to do against Pittsburgh.

Next: Set the Tone Early