STEELERS 35, RAIDERS 3
Steelers' record: 7-3
One year ago: 6-4
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 14-11
One year ago, a loss to the Raiders qualified as an "oh no" moment, one of the low points of the unmitigated disaster that was the five-game losing streak ruining the Steelers season. But this Raiders team bears little resemblance to the editions that had produced seven straight losing seasons, and a victory deserved to be considered a quality win for the Steelers.
Points at the end of the first half can be critical, and so it was in this game. With the Steelers leading, 14-3, Ike Taylor forced a fumble that Lawrence Timmons recovered at the Oakland 35-yard line. Four plays later, Ben Roethlisberger threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders with 1:31 left for a 21-3 lead.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The Raiders came into the game averaging 10 penalties a game, but it was the Steelers who were highly penalized. The Steelers cracked the 100-yard mark in penalties on their first offensive snap of the second half, and they went on to set a franchise record for penalty yards in a game with 163. That broke the previous record of 154 yards set on Sept. 17, 1989 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* On the 85-yard drive that ended with Rashard Mendenhall's touchdown run that gave the Steelers a 7-3 lead, the offense was 2-for-2 on third downs and Ben Roethlisberger completed 5-of-6 for 62 yards.
- During a Raiders three-and-out following the Steelers' first touchdown, James Farrior sacked Jason Campbell on first down, and then he dumped Darren McFadden for a 2-yard gain on second down.
- One play after getting flagged for pass interference, Ike Taylor stripped the ball from receiver Louis Murphy after a completion, and Lawrence Timmons recovered at the Raiders 35-yard line with 2:49 left in the first half and the Steelers holding a 14-3 lead.
- The Steelers got a touchdown that extended their lead to 21-3 and the Raiders lost their best defensive player on the same snap of the ball. After Roethlisberger completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders, who made a very nice catch by the way, Richard Seymour knocked Roethlisberger down with a shot to the head. Seymour was ejected, and the Steelers held a 21-3 lead at halftime.
- The Steelers have been looking for Mike Wallace to take short passes and turn them into big plays, and that's what he did in the fourth quarter. Wallace took a short pass from Roethlisberger, put a move on Stanford Routt and then out-ran Tyvon Branch to the flag to complete the 52-yard touchdown play and give the Steelers a 28-3 lead.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* The Steelers won the toss and elected to receive, but the offense did nothing with it. Included in the three-and-out was a second down play where the Steelers barely got the snap off in time because of a couple of separate on-field scuffles with Raiders ends Trevor Scott and Lamar Houston, and a third down play where Mewelde Moore didn't get onto the field until after the offense broke the huddle.
- LaMarr Woodley was flagged for roughing the passer on a first series hit that was neither late nor helmet-to-helmet, and then on the Raiders second series, Ryan Clark was flagged for a personal foul when he drove his shoulder into the back of Jacoby Ford after the Raiders receiver came down with the reception.
- The game is not even 10 minutes old, and the Steelers have been flagged for three major penalties – roughing the passer on Woodley, unnecessary roughness on Clark and a clipping on Ramon Foster. Also during that time was a defensive holding call on Ike Taylor.
- Antonio Brown had a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown nullified by two holding penalties – one on William Gay that was declined and one on Ryan Mundy that was accepted.
- A holding penalty on Doug Legursky – the 11th on the Steelers to that point – nullified a 26-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall to the Raiders 2-yard line. Two plays later, the Steelers punted to waste an interception by James Harrison that had given them the ball at the Oakland 28-yard line.
- Ike Taylor had a pick-six nullified in the third quarter by a roughing the passer penalty on James Harrison that was neither late nor did it involve hitting Jason Campbell in one of the restricted areas. It was called because Harrison landed on Campbell "with the full weight of his body."
- With a 28-3 lead and less than five minutes remaining, Rashard Mendenhall lost his first fumble of the season. The Raiders recovered at their own 24-yard line with 4:09 remaining.
As has been the case more weeks than not, the Steelers were forced to do some shuffling along the offensive line because of injuries.
Chris Kemoeatu returned after missing the game against the Patriots, but then he left the game early in the second half with leg cramps. Kemoeatu would return later in the half, and he was on the field through the time when the Steelers scored their fifth touchdown.
Maurkice Pouncey also did not finish the game, and he left for good early in the second half with a thigh injury. Pouncey seemed to injure it initially in the first half, and then he came back and played a bit more before leaving for good.
"I think Maurkice Pouncey had a knee-to-knee hit with somebody in the game. It's a contusion," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "Hopefully it won't be long-term. I don't think it will be. The rest of the stuff is bumps and bruises. Jonathan Scott got rolled up on a little bit, as did Chris Kemoeatu."
Based on the practice reports throughout the week, there were no real surprises when the Steelers' list of inactives was reported.
There were only three guys on the inactive list for the Steelers due to injury – Will Allen (concussion), Aaron Smith (triceps) and Brett Keisel (hamstring).
Tomlin did make one change to the starting lineup that was unrelated to injury, and that was replacing Trai Essex at right guard with Ramon Foster.
"It was based solely on performance. Trai was below the line," said Tomlin. "We felt like Ramon gave us a better shot today. We like his tenacity. We'll assess his work and proceed from there. We're not going to be bashful about what it is we need to do here. We need quality play. We need winning performances from everyone."