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Ben: 'It’s not an easy place to play'

It’s not an easy place to play. And it hasn’t always been friendly to the Steelers.

The last three times the Steelers played the Raiders on the road, they lost.

The last win came in 1995, a 29-10 victory that pre-dates anyone on the current Steelers roster.

“The environment, the team, the travel. A little bit of everything,” said Ben Roethlisberger about the challenges of playing a West Coast team. “I have been doing it for a while and have heard other people talk about it. Whether you are going to the elevation in Denver or going to the West Coast, I have heard people say if it’s under 24 hours it doesn’t affect your body.

“We’ve always gone the same time since I have been here. This year we are going earlier in the day. I guess we are trying something different.”

While it hasn’t been a friendly place as far as the outcome of the games, Roethlisberger said he doesn’t mind playing in Oakland, a place laden in NFL history.

“It’s cool,” said Roethlisberger. “If you respect sports, you respect fans and venues, it’s a neat one. That is what makes it fun.

“It’s not an easy place to play. What an awesome challenge for us.”

The Raiders come into the game with a 2-10 record, but Roethlisberger said they don’t look like a team with that record on tape. He knows they will give them everything they have on Sunday, especially after seeing how they gave the Kansas City Chiefs such a fight last week despite losing, 40-33.

“You saw what they did last week against one of the best teams in football, fought them all the way to the end,” said Roethlisberger. “We can’t worry about records. I have never won there. That becomes a challenge as well.”

The Steelers will be playing without their starting running back. James Conner was already ruled out with an ankle sprain, and Jaylen Samuels, Stevan Ridley and Trey Edmunds will share the duties of carrying the ground game. Roethlisberger said he doesn’t anticipate the offense changing in Conner’s absence.

“Ridley is a guy that has been around the league for a while,” said Roethlisberger. “He has some NFL experience. He has been here for a little bit now. Samuels is someone who is new to the game, big body guy that we use in the passing game. We have specific plays and packages with him in because we want to throw the ball.

“It will be interesting to see how they want to use both of them going forward. I think it will be good for everyone to get some reps and keep each other fresh.”

Sunday’s game begins the stretch run for the Steelers, and while Roethlisberger will never look ahead, he does understand the importance of finishing the season strong.

“It’s the fourth quarter of the season,” said Roethlisberger. “We know how important that is that you need to be playing your best football in December, going into January. This is a big stretch for us. We are playing some really good football teams, going on the road, playing some good ones at home, on the road. This is an awesome test for us. If we want to be a playoff caliber team and make the playoffs, we need to have this kind of stretch.”

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