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Cheat Sheet: Steelers vs. Raiders

How to Watch/Listen

  • TV coverage: Broadcast locally in Pittsburgh on CBS (KDKA-TV)
  • Steelers Radio Network - Game coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET; Pregame programming begins at 9:00 a.m.; Postgame coverage starts immediately following the game.
  • Don't miss a minute of the action... check out all of the ways that you can watch, listen and follow along as the Steelers on gameday. Click here >>>

Injury Update

The Steelers wrapped up their preparation for the home opener against the Las Vegas Raiders at Heinz Field on Sunday, with the injury report evolving throughout the week.

Check out the most updated Injury Report: Click here >>>

Series History

One of the greatest rivalries in NFL history, the first game between these iconic franchises took place in 1970 in Oakland with the Raiders prevailing in a season in which they would advance to the AFC Championship game. Between that game in 1970 and the last meeting in 2018, the Raiders have a 13-10 edge in the regular season. The Raiders and Steelers have split their six very memorable playoff matchups but haven't squared off in the postseason since 1984. However, between December 23rd of 1972 and December 26th of 1976, these teams battled in the playoffs five times. The Raiders last visit to Pittsburgh? 2015. Landry Jones replaced an injured Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter, Antonio Brown logged 17 receptions for 284 yards and the Steelers pulled out a 38-35 win, courtesy of a Chris Boswell field goal with two seconds remaining.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field in Week 9.

Matt's Week 1 Steelers Stat Pack

  • Ben Roethlisberger's average release time of 2.3 seconds was faster than any other quarterback in the league in Week 1. This held true for Roethlisberger throughout the 2020 season as well.
  • In Week 1, the Steelers held Josh Allen to 5.3 yards per pass attempt. That was Allen's lowest mark since Pittsburgh faced Buffalo in 2020. However, there were six Week 1 quarterbacks that averaged 9.5 intended air yards or more. Two of them were Carr and Allen.
  • Ben Roethlisberger used play action on 34.3% of his dropbacks in Week 1. Last year, he utilized play action on 9.6 % of his throws. Against the Bills, Roethlisberger averaged 7.7 yards per throw with play action and just 4.9 without it.
  • Steelers offensive snap count notes from Week 1: Najee Harris played every snap. That is rare for any running back, let alone one playing his first professional game. No running back during the entire 2020 season played every snap of a game. JuJu Smith-Schuster led Pittsburgh's wide receivers by playing 91% of the offensive snaps and ran a route on every one of Roethlisberger's drop backs. Smith-Schuster aligned in the slot 76% of the time. Three tight ends, Pat Freiermuth (50%), Eric Ebron (47%) and Zach Gentry (28%) all played 16 snaps or more in Buffalo. Ebron ran a route on 17 of his snaps and Freiermuth ran 12.
  • Steelers defensive snap count notes from Week 1: The entire starting secondary of Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds were the only Pittsburgh defenders to never leave the field for any of the Bills whopping 85 plays on Sunday. Three other defensive backs, Tre Norwood (68 snaps), James Pierre (31) and Arthur Maulet (13) also saw significant action. As for the second level defenders, Devin Bush outpaced Joe Schobert 73 snaps to 66. On the edge, TJ Watt (69), Melvin Ingram (54) and Alex Highsmith (46) all played at least 54% of the possible 85 snaps. As expected, Cameron Heyward led the defensive linemen by playing 66% of the snaps. Tyson Alualu wasn't far behind at 62%, but Chris Wormley contributed with a 47% snap share while Carlos Davis and Isaiah Buggs combined to play 25 snaps off the bench.
  • Steelers special teams snap count notes from Week 1: Derek Watt was in the game for all 20 special teams snaps, but four other Steelers (Benny Snell, Marcus Allen, Ulysees Gilbert and Miles Killebrew) saw 19 special teams snaps. James Pierre and Justin Layne also contributed with 15 snaps on special teams.
  • When the Steelers under Mike Tomlin has had a rest advantage over the opponent, Pittsburgh has won 27 out of a possible 39 games. That 69.2% winning percentage is the second best in the NFL over that span.

Raiders News, Notes & Stats

About Carr & The O

  • Derek Carr's depth of target spiked up to 8.5 last year. He was at 6.9 in 2019 and 7.1 in 2018. Carr's 7.94 average yards per attempt, 4,103 passing yards and 101.4 passer rating were also his career highs in 2020.
  • Carr threw for 435 yards in Week 1. But his first half performance (12 of 25 for 127 yards) was night and day different from how he played in the second half and overtime (22 of 31 for 308 yards).
  • There has been a recurring problem with Carr though that has yet to get corrected: fumbles. Last year Carr fumbled 11 times, which tied for the most in the league. And over the past three seasons, Carr has fumbled 30 times. He also put the ball on the ground last week against the Ravens.
  • The Raiders offense fumbled the ball 20 times in 2020, but only recovered the ball five times. That "fumble luck" is likely to change back to the mean in 2021.
  • The Raiders scored points on just under 50% of their drives and produced 2.63 points per drive. Both were near the top of the NFL last year.
  • Two offensive linemen played over 1,000 snaps for Las Vegas last year, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson. But neither is back with the team in 2021.

Wide Receiver Focus

  • Only Baltimore targeted their wide receivers at a lower percentage of the time than the Raiders did last year. However, Las Vegas' most efficient offensive personnel grouping, by a wide margin, was 11 Personnel with three wide receivers on the field together. The Raiders averaged 7.1 yards per play last year out of 11 Personnel which was a full yard better than any of their other offensive groupings.
  • Over the past two seasons, Darren Waller has racked up 197 receptions for 2,341 yards. Travis Kelce is the only tight end with more. Also, over that time, only the Packers Davante Adams received more red zone targets than Waller. And over the final five games of the 2020 season, Waller caught a whopping 43 passes for 654 yards.
  • Well, let's just say that trend is continuing or even escalating in 2021 for Waller. Against the Ravens, Waller was targeted an amazing 19 times and was still the clear engine of Las Vegas' passing game.
  • Bryan Edwards was on the field during his rookie year for just 24% of the Raiders offensive snaps. Edwards nearly scored the game winner in overtime but did finish last week's game with 81 yards, leading all Raiders wide receivers. Edwards' 2.08 yards per route run in Week 1 is also a very high number and his role very well could increase in Pittsburgh, but he didn't catch his first pass until the Raiders final drive of regulation.
  • Last year's first round pick, Henry Ruggs, has yet to receive more than five targets in any game as a professional. He ran a route on 35 snaps against the Ravens.

The Vegas D

  • Over the three seasons in which Jon Gruden has been the Raiders head coach, the defense has allowed the most points in the NFL and have recorded the fewest sacks.
  • Only two defenses allowed more points per game than Las Vegas in 2020 and opponents scored on just under 53% of their possessions last year against the Raiders which was the worst in the NFL.
  • Las Vegas allowed a league-high 4.2 red zone possessions per game last year.
  • The Raiders were near the top of the league in their usage of their nickel defense but in turn, near the bottom of the NFL in terms of using six defensive backs on the field together. That makes perfect sense, as they allowed a whopping 9.5 yards per play with six or more defensive backs on the field in 2020.
  • Las Vegas' defense really struggled last year stopping the run (5.1 yards per rush) when the opponent had three or more wide receivers on the field.
  • Maxx Crosby was the only Raiders defensive lineman to see the field for more than 665 snaps in 2020.

About Monday Night

  • In 2020, the Raiders ended up with a -.1 yards per play differential but were at the top of the league (5.9) in this category on offense and at the bottom of the league (6.0) on defense. And how about this: In Week 1 against Baltimore, the Raiders produced 6.1 yards per play…and allowed 6.1 yards per play in their overtime victory.
  • For comparison's sake, the Steelers offense gained 4.6 yards per play in Buffalo while the Steelers allowed 4.7 to the Bills.
  • On Monday night against Baltimore, the Raiders first wide receiver reception didn't come until halfway through the second quarter.
  • The Raiders defense stopped Baltimore on nine of their 12 third down attempts.

The Advanced Scout Podcast

Check out Matt's podcast preview on the Raiders: Listen Here >>>

Matt's Most Memorable Moment

Without question, The Immaculate Reception is the most memorable moment between the Raiders and Steelers and is certainly in contention as the most memorable moment in NFL history. But the 1970s were loaded with unbelievable moments between Pittsburgh and Al Davis' Raiders. But let's take this memorable moment off the field. Oakland narrowly beat the Steelers, who were the defending Super Bowl Champion, in the first game of the 1976 season. In that game, George Atkinson inflicted an extremely vicious blow to Lynn Swann's head. Chuck Noll quickly referenced the "Criminal Element" in the Raiders organization which led to a lawsuit. In the end, Atkinson was fined $1,500 (times and fines were different back then) by the NFL and Noll was forced to pay $1,000.

Facts from NFL Research

  • Six of the last eight games between the Raiders and Steelers have been decided by 3-or-fewer points (including the previous four games).
  • Steelers' 1st round RB Najee Harris was the only RB to play in 100 pct of his team's offensive snaps in Week 1 (55 of 55 offensive snaps).
  • T.J. Watt has 31.5 sacks since 2019 (most in NFL).
  • Carr & Roethlisberger have split their two career matchups (both won at home; both games were decided by 3 points).
  • Both Carr & Roethlisberger averaged 300.0+ pass YPG and 100.0+ passer rating in their two matchups.

Key Matchups

  • Raiders Offensive Line vs. Steelers Defensive Front-One of the strengths of the Raiders team in 2020 was their offensive line. Yet, they made wholesale changes in that front five, including drafting Alex Leatherwood in the first round of the draft. Leatherwood had a tough night, especially against Justin Houston. Now he gets TJ Watt with the Heinz Field crowd noise working against him. The Steelers defensive front controlled the game last week in Buffalo. Pittsburgh's defensive linemen and edge pass-rushers are a nightmare to play against with their rare combination of star power and depth. And now they square off against a newly rebuilt Raiders offensive line.
  • Raiders TE Darren Waller vs. Steelers SS Terrell Edmunds-More often than not, Edmunds gets the assignment of doing battle with opposing tight ends. While Edmunds does a fine job in this capacity, Waller is a different type of challenge and will require help from numerous Steelers defenders. The Raiders do a great job of scheming Waller up all over the formation, and he is a remarkable athlete for the tight end position. On Monday night, the Ravens keyed heavily on Waller, but he still produced in a big way by the end of the night. Waller is the featured player in Las Vegas' passing game…and it really isn't even close. Containing him will be very difficult.