That was a fun way to put a Patriots’ loss in the rear-view mirror. Pittsburgh completely dominated the Raiders, and if it hadn’t been for the officials’ flag-happy tendencies, we may have seen a blowout of historic proportions.
We’ll have more analysis of the game on the podcast, but here are some thoughts during the game.
(You can read Ryan’s thoughts from the game here.)
It’s nice to see the Steelers’ coaching staff respond to the problems we all saw in the loss to the Patriots. You read here how Trai Essex was the player who has serious problems in the running game — Pittsburgh replaced him with Ramon Foster.
There’s been a general consensus that the wide receivers for the Steelers have lacked enough quickness and explosiveness to make secondaries sweat — so Pittsburgh activated Anthony Brown and Emmanuel Sanders in the same week and played both of them in four wide receiver formations. It’s great to see guys who can get open against solid corners. Just as notably Antwaan Randle El has been reduced to a couple of gimmick snaps and the five-wide formations, but not much more than that. That said, Emmanuel Sanders needs to focus on catching this week — he had a couple of balls hit his hands that he didn’t snag.
Another young gun getting an opportunity was Keenan Lewis — he again seemed to play well when given a chance to serve as a gunner on punt coverage. The combination of him, Anthony Madison and Stevenson Sylvester is an impressive combination on punt coverage.
I know that Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians gets a lot of criticism, but give him credit when things work. Check out the third and two with 10:18 to go in the second quarter. Heath Miller lined up at fullback (a pretty unusual role for him, but not completely unprecedented), then flared out into the flat at the snap — he was left wide open for an 18-yard gain on a seemingly simple dump and run. It was the kind of matchup advantage that the Steelers had clearly seen on film, and waited to use in a key situation.
Seeing Richard Seymour and Chris Kemoeatu spar with each other early in the second quarter was awesome. It was the kind of thing you would have seen in a Steelers/Raiders game from the 1970s, and it was relatively clean, just two guys going at each other a little after the whistle. Seeing Seymour punch Roethlisberger later was not as awesome, but if there ever is an unnecessary roughness penalty you accept, it’s the one that Kemoeatu took for retaliating. As an offensive lineman, you can’t shrug off your quarterback being punched, and thankfully Kemoeatu didn’t.
As much as I love the memories of the 70s Steelers-Raiders games, in the second half we saw what would happen in the Steelers-Raiders from the 70s played now. It became a farce with penalties on every play.