Oakland Raiders: Keys to Victory Over Pittsburgh Steelers

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Nov 1, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Limit Antonio Brown’s Impact

Over the last few weeks, the Raiders have done an increasingly good job of taking their opponent’s top receiver out of the game. Or at least, blunting the impact they have on the game. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Keenan Allen, and Brandon Marshall – all big name, big game receivers, and all of them held without a touchdown catch when they faced the Raiders.

The Raiders secondary was very successful in blunting the impact those big time receivers had on the game.

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  • It’s a pretty amazing turnaround given the fact that over the first few weeks of the season, the Raiders’ secondary was getting torched for big plays and touchdowns on a regular basis. D.J. Hayden, in particular, was getting picked on and getting beaten soundly on play after play.

    But over the last three games, something has clicked with this Oakland secondary. They are beginning to play like the sort of secondary Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton had envisioned when they opted to go with their young, largely inexperienced cornerbacks rather than pursue a veteran through free agency.

    The addition of David Amerson has seemed to help turn a unit that had been a complete liability into a unit that, while not spectacular, is making plays and helping shut down the opposing offense. Over the last few weeks, they’ve looked less like a liability and more like a respectable, and very serviceable position group.

    Oakland’s DB’s are going to need to be on top of their game against Antonio Brown – a receiver who is arguably, the best in the game right now.

    Brown’s 52 catches for 718 yards put him fourth in the league behind only Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Keenan Allen. Brown has the ability to completely take over a game. Nobody felt Roethlisberger’s absence in the lineup more than Brown, as over the four games he was out of the lineup, Brown went for 42,45, 24, and 124 yards.

    With Roethlisberger back from his injury and looking to get back on track, the Raiders should expect him to try and get the ball to his absolute favorite target – Brown.

    The Bengals did a pretty good job of shutting Brown down, limiting him to six receptions on 11 targets for 47 yards – though they did give up a score. But with Roethlisberger now having had a week of practice to shake the rust off and get his timing down, Oakland can and should expect those two to hook up early and often throughout the course of the game.

    The Raiders may not be able to stop Brown from putting up some numbers entirely, but they can most definitely blunt the impact he has on the game – just as they’ve done to the opposition’s top receiver over the last three weeks.

    If he gets some yards in the middle of the field, fine. But keep him out of the endzone and keep his impact on the game minimal. That is going to be critical. The Raiders’ secondary is finally looking like they have the ability to do just that, but more importantly, the confidence to go with that ability.

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