Oakland Raiders: Keys to Victory Over Pittsburgh Steelers

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Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) prepares to throw a pass before the start of the game against the New York Jets at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Take Some Shots Deep

The Raiders opened the game last week by going straight at one of the league’s premier corners in Darrelle Revis. The deep ball, intended for rookie phenom Amari Cooper, ultimately sailed incomplete, but it set the tone for the game and sent a clear message to one of the NFL’s most intimidating secondaries – “we’re not afraid of you.”

And as it turned out, they had good reason. While Revis held Cooper in check for much of the day – the rookie ended up with five receptions (on nine targets) for just 46 yards, the Raiders found a weak point in the secondary in Antonio Cromartie – and attacked it with gusto.

Cromartie is no slouch when it comes to being a cornerback in the NFL. He is still one of the better cover corners in the league. But squared up against the veteran Michael Crabtree, Cromarties gave up 102 yards and a touchdown on just seven receptions. He didn’t fare much better against Andre Holmes as Holmes managed 54 yards on just two receptions – and notched a pair of touchdown grabs.

The Raiders’ passing game is quickly becoming a pick your poison deal. If they loosen up on Cooper, he will make them pay. If they loosen up on Crabtree, Holmes, or Roberts, they will make them pay. It’s a passing game with a lot of weapons and Carr is doing a fantastic job of utilizing all of them.

In Antwon Blake, the Raiders may have just found the chink in Pittsburgh’s defensive armor. According to Pro Football Focus, Blake has given up the second most passing yards of any starting corner in the NFL – which is good news for the Raiders.

With the Steelers likely putting a lot of emphasis on containing Cooper, Crabtree has the opportunity to have yet another big day for Oakland’s offense. Carr is very comfortable throwing to the veteran and the two have an undeniable chemistry. If Cooper is locked up, look for Crabtree to be a major contributor.

The Raiders need to take some shots deep from the get go – of course, they need to be smart about it as well. But if they can get those DB’s taking an extra step or two backward or hesitating at the wrong moment, Oakland’s running attack, not to mention their short and intermediate passing game will be all that much more potent.

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