The Pittsburgh Steelers lost 34-31 to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday and below are my first half notes from the game with the second half notes to follow soon.
The opening kickoff ends with kicker Shaun Suisham having to make the tackle. Not a good start by special teams.
On the first play for the Raiders, Ryan Clark intercepts Carson Palmer as wide receiver Denarius Moore slips during his route. Great start for the defense as they get off quickly.
The Heath Miller catch was overturned and I thought that it was the right call. The quick slant to Mike Wallace was a result of a nice rub by Emmanuel Sanders, as he caused the two Raider defenders to crash into each other. The end around to Wallace I did not like as the line is just not athletic enough to get out in front. The touchdown to Miller was too easy as Antonio Brown had the Raiders defense trying to cheat him to the inside and the linebacker had a late break covering Miller. 7-0 Steelers.
Chris Carter gets the defensed pass on first down as he drops into coverage outside on Moore. Larry Foote allows the tight end an easy catch for the first down. The second down touchdown run by Darren McFadden I have broken down here and it sure looks like Ike Taylor was held downfield. 7-7
Ben Roethlisberger was not very accurate early on, but he would come around. The screen to Sanders was a great call considering how far off the corner was playing him. Easy pitch and catch and the offensive line has pass protected well up until this point. Another screen to the same side, but this time to Brown with the corner playing off. Steelers are driving again. The touchdown to Miller was great play action and a great run block fake by the Steelers tight end. 14-7 Steelers
LaMarr Woodley gets his 50th career sack and the Steelers only sack of Palmer for the day. Raiders punt.
Nice return by Brown and the Steelers have flipped the field. A false start by Ramon Foster to start the drive off. This is followed up by a Willie Colon hold and the drive falls apart that quick.
Another good three and out by the defense. Ziggy Hood and Taylor both make nice plays on the drive.
Brown returns the Raiders punt for a touchdown, but two penalties on the play negate it. Baron Batch is now in on this drive. Delay of game on 3rd down was inexcusable and it kills the drive after Miller can\’t hold onto the 3rd down pass that followed. Another special teams gaff as Drew Butler shanks the punt.
On second down Worilds is in no man\’s land as McFadden catches an easy one out of the backfield. Worilds makes up for it on the next play as he forces McFadden out wide for the third down stop by Taylor.
Why Brown called for a fair catch on the ensuing punt I will never know. Another special teams gaff. Add a facemask onto it and the Steelers are backed up. a few good runs by Isaac Redman on this drive early on. Jonathan Dwyer comes in and proceeds to fumble.
Cortez Allen makes a nice tackle on 3rd down, but Brett Keisel is flagged for encroachment on 4th down when the Raiders should have been flagged for having too many men in motion on the play. The automatic first down for the Raiders leads to a score as Ryan Mundy is rubbed off of his coverage of Darrius Heyward-Bey. Great play call and great execution by the Raiders. 14-14
Two nice catches by Batch to start the answer drive off. Roethlisberger hits Sanders for an explosive play thanks to nice protection and the offense is driving. I wonder if Raiders safety Matt Giordano gets fined for his hit on Sanders. I doubt it. Steelers 17-14 at the half.
Summation: The Steelers special teams played absolutely lousy in the first half. While Roethlisberger was not very accurate to start the game, he got better quick. Miller is off to great start this season. The explosive touchdown by McFadden, the special team errors, the fumble by Dwyer, and the penalty on Keisel were the main reasons the Raiders were even in this game at halftime. The Steelers offense really moved the ball well in the first half.