Oakland Raiders: Notes And Observations From Week Nine

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Nov 8, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown (84) carries the ball on a 57-yard reception with 45 seconds left to set up the winning field goal in a 38-35 victory in a NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A Tarnished Silver Lining

Against the Raiders, Roethlisberger did what Roethlisberger does – which is throw for a lot of yards. Before an injury knocked him out of the game, he threw for 334 yards on 24 of 44 passing. He also threw for two scores, had one pick, and took one 11 yard sack. It was a pretty good game for Roethlisberger overall – and a bad one for the Raiders’ secondary.

After three weeks of pretty solid play, it looked like the Raiders’ much maligned secondary was improving and was finally trending the right way. They made life miserable for Peyton Manning and the Broncos, held Philip Rivers and the league’s top ranked passing offense in check, had done a good job of dismantling Ryan Fitzpatrick / Geno Smith and the Jets.

The inflated passing totals that Rivers as well as Smith put up were pretty much just that – inflated. Both quarterbacks passed for a lot of yards after the Raiders had built an insurmountable lead and had dropped into a looser defensive coverage package.

Squaring off against Roethlisberger and all-world receiver Antonio Brown, the Raiders’ secondary was set to face another stiff test. Unfortunately for the Raiders, this is a test they failed and failed miserably.

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  • Brown utterly destroyed Oakland’s secondary. He made them look foolish at every turn. Despite the fact that aside from Williams, Brown was their only real offensive weapon, the Raiders couldn’t stop him. It was so bad that on more than a few plays over the course of the game, Oakland had seven defensive backs on the field and Brown STILL managed to make plays.

    For the game, Brown amassed a stat line that looks like it came straight out of a video game – 17 receptions for an astounding 238 yards. The only bright spot – such as it is – is that the Raiders managed to hold Brown out of the endzone.

    What is even more disturbing however, is the fact that after Roethlisberger was knocked out of the game, backup Landry Jones came in and picked up right where he’d left off – carving up Oakland’s secondary. Jones finished the game four of six for 79 yards, but it was his pass to Brown that he caught and ran for 59 yards with that sealed the deal for Pittsburgh.

    The only silver lining the Raiders can come away with from this game as far as their secondary is concerned – and it’s a very tarnished silver lining, to be sure – is that they held all of Pittsburgh’s other receiving weapons pretty much in check.

    Tight end Heath Miller – Pittsburgh’s second leading receiver – was limited to 32 yards on three receptions on six targets. Though, Oakland did surrender a touchdown catch to seldom used rookie tight end Jesse James.

    Aside from Brown, no other Steeler pass catcher gained more than 55 receiving yards – and those 55 yards came courtesy of running back Williams.

    But the damage Brown inflicted on the Raiders was far more than enough. The Raiders are going to have to find whatever it was within them that allowed them to be very effective against the Broncos, Chargers, and Jets because whatever it was, just wasn’t there against Pittsburgh.

    Next: The Defense Was MIA