Oakland Raiders: Keys to Victory Over Pittsburgh Steelers

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Nov 1, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is hit by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Marcus Hardison (91) after throwing a pass during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Attack Roethlisberger – And Don’t Stop

After coming back from injury, Ben Roethlisberger had a pretty poor showing against division rival Cincinnati. His three picks helped the Bengals remain unbeaten and dropped the Steelers to 4-4 on the season.

The poor showing is likely going to fire him up and make him play at his best – especially with the huge playoff implications on the line in Sunday’s game. The Raiders are going to need to be ready for vintage Roethlisberger and that incredibly explosive Pittsburgh offense.

Last season, Roethlisberger and the offense were one of the most explosive in the league. Roethlisberger had one 500 yard game, a 400 yard game, and seven 300 yard games. The Steelers were the second ranked offense in the league in terms of yardage, and the seventh ranked scoring unit. Suffice it to say, the Steelers were dynamic in 2014.

With many of the same players returning, this year’s Steelers are no less potent. They are led by Antonio Brown, who is arguably, the best receiver in football. Pittsburgh also has a supporting cast that can do some real damage if given the chance.

Former Raider Darrius Heyward-Bey has found a home of sorts in Pittsburgh, and Martavis Bryant excels when given the opportunity – he has 231 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 receptions.

What the Raiders must do is harass Roethlisberger. They need to punish him on every play. On paper, the Raiders don’t have a terrific pass rushing defense, registering just 14 sacks on the year, ranking them the twenty-first in the league.

But what the Raiders do well often doesn’t show up on the stat sheet – which is bring heavy and sustained pressure. With Aldon Smith coming off one edge and Khalil Mack coming off the other, opposing offensive lines have their hands full already. And with Dan Williams, Justin Ellis, Mario Edwards, Benson Mayowa, Denico Autry, and some of Oakland’s other rotational players making a strong push up the middle, they’ve done an excellent job of making the quarterback uncomfortable, and forcing him into mistakes.

They are going to need to do that with Roethlisberger. They will need to be in his face from the opening snap to the final gun. If they give him time to sit back in the pocket, he is going to cut them to pieces. The pass rush needs to be strong, it needs to be fierce, and they need to punch Roethlisberger in the mouth all day long.

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