I have pointed out the problems that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had running the ball on first and second down through their first two games of the 2012 season, but their opponent in week 3, the Oakland Raiders, have had their problems as well on the early run downs.
So far against the San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins the Raiders running backs have 29 carries on first and second down for a total of 60 rushing yards. That equates to just a hair over 2.0 yards per carry.
8 of those 29 carries have gone for zero or negative yardage and only 4 have gone for more than 5 yards, with 11 yards being the longest by backup Mike Goodson.
So how is the Steelers defense doing against opponents running backs on first and second downs through the first two games? 39 carries for 151 yards, according to the raw stats, or 3.87 yards per carry. That number does not include the 22 yard run by New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow last Sunday either, as we are looking at just the running backs here.
Where the Raiders running backs have done their most damage so far this season is out of the backfield and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin noted this during his Tuesday press conference.
Starter Darren McFadden leads the Raiders in receptions with 15 and he has been targeted a whopping 25 times through the first two games. Goodson has been targeted 3 times and as caught all three passes for 83 yards with 1 of those going for a 64 yard touchdown last week against the Dolphins.
22 of the Raiders 56 receptions thus far have gone to their running backs for a total of 225 yards of offense. That is a whopping 10 plus yards a reception, and while aided by the big Goodson play, the Raiders running backs have to be respected despite their inability to run on first and second downs.