By Matthew Marczi
Ramon Foster was ruled out for the Pittsburgh Steelers during halftime after it was determined that he sustained a concussion. It was also confirmed that the rest of the team merely played as though they had sustained concussions, but were actually fine. Despite leading the turnover margin 2-0 (and nearly 3-0), the Steelers enter the second half trailing the Oakland Raiders 21-3. The bizarre happenings in Oakland continued, beginning with a 93-yard touchdown run to open the half and a short field goal miss to end it.
After a touchback on the opening kickoff, Le’Veon Bell avoided a loss of yardage by breaking a tackle and ended up gaining two yards. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked again on second down to set up third and 17. Roethlisberger, however, was able to hit Emmanuel Sanders right at the first down marker to move the chains for the first time on third down.
Jonathan Dwyer got his first carries of the day, picking up a first down on two carries. He was dropped for a loss on his third attempt, however, and Guy Whimper was injured on the play. Cody Wallace replaced him for his first snaps of the season, and first as a Steeler.
Antonio Brown took a short gain seven yards, and a facemask penalty gave the Steelers a first down. On the following play, Bell had his longest run of the day for eight yards, forcing a missed tackle along the way. Brown took an end around pass on the next play and barely converted the first down.
Roethlisberger used play action, but could not immediately find anybody open. He tossed to Bell, who could not come up with a pass off the mark. Mike Jenkins was initially flagged for a personal foul, but the flag was later picked up without being announced. On second down, the Steelers faked an end around and tossed to Bell, who gained nine yards to set up third and short. Bell easily converted. The Raiders were not fooled on a draw, however, and Bell was dropped for a loss of five after Wallace was beaten.
Bell gained six on the following play to put Roethlisberger into a third and nine scenario, and pressure on the play forced a desperate throw that fell incomplete at the back of the end zone. Shaun Suisham then missed another short field goal.
Troy Polamalu was not fooled for a quarterback keeper, but Terrelle Pryor still escaped his grasp to slide for a loss of just one. He kept it again and broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage to net two. the third down pass was incomplete thanks to strong coverage by Ike Taylor to quickly get the ball back in the hands of the offense, who must move quicker if they hope to have any time to come back after draining half of the third quarter on their first drive alone.
The Steelers went three plays traveling just five yards, which meant another punt, but what is worse, David DeCastro left the field. Should he not return, the offensive line will consist of Mike Adams, Kelvin Beachum, Fernando Velasco, Wallace, and Marcus Gilbert, from left to right. But hey, Zoltan Mesko downed a punt at the one, so there’s that.
Denarius Moore beat Taylor on a slant route for a first down on third and long to get the Raiders out from the shadow of their own goal line. Taylor dropped Pryor for a loss on the following play.
A short gain ended the third quarter to set up third and long to begin the fourth. However, it was not long before the Steelers turned the ball over. Roethlisberger looked for Sanders deep, but Jenkins made a strong play to intercept the ball.
The Steelers got it back two plays later after a hit by Lawrence Timmons jarred the ball loose after a reception, taking over at the 11. It looked like Roethlisberger immediately found Heath Miller on a strike for the touchdown, making it a two-score game, but after review, it was obvious that the receiver jarred the ball loose enough to force Miller to use the ground to gain full possession.
A shovel pass to Bell gained just two yards on second down. On third down, Roethlisberger broke away from a sack and found Sanders escaping his coverage to slip into the end zone for the score, now down 21-10.
After the score, the Steelers bottled up the Raiders on the kickoff and then forced a three-and-out, including a sack on third down to force a punt. However, the Steelers went three and out after Brown could not hang on to a 25-yard pass on third and 15 after being hit.
The Steelers forced another three and out after Polamalu coerced Pryor out of bounds, and Antonio Brown returned the punt deep into Raiders territory, at the 31. On first down, Sanders caught a pass and should have gone out of bounds. On second down, he and Roethlisberger were not on the same page. On third down, a pass went off of Brown and was intercepted less than an inch off the ground by the Raiders.
The Steelers forced another three and out as the Raiders continue to play conservatively with the lead, but they got off a strong punt, and Antonio Brown only went backwards, putting the Steelers on their own 17.
Jerricho Cotchery picked up 10 and got out of bounds to start the drive. Tracy Porter, who came down with the last interception, knocked away a pass for Cotchery across the middle of the field. Brown hauled in a 12-yard pass a play later, and then Sanders added another 20. After another first down, Roethlisberger was sacked with the two-minute warning.
Cotchery got away from Porter on the ensuing play for 17 yards and got out of bounds. Bell did a good job of getting out of bounds after seven yards a play later. On second down, Roethlisberger was forced to burn a timeout. Heath Miller got the first down and got out of bounds to set up first and goal. From the four-yard line, Roethlisberger was under duress and threw up a terrible pass that was intercepted, but he was redeemed by a defensive holding call.
Now from the two, Roethlisberger handed it off to Bell, who had a clear alley for the score. Sanders took an end around, doubled back, and squirmed his way into the end zone to convert for two points and make it a three-point game.
The onside kick was not close to being successful, giving the Raiders the ball on their half of the field with 1:23 to go and the Steelers possessing two timeouts. The Steelers held the Raiders to zero yards on two carries to burn their two timeouts with 1:16 to play. The Raiders took a delay of game with 28 seconds left.
Disaster struck on the punt, as Brown not only fielded a punt that he should not have, but lost yardage, and then the team was penalized for holding. With 18 seconds, Roethlisberger starts on his on two. Sanders caught a pass in the middle of the field and had no chance of getting out of bounds, ending the game with a finale score of 21-18.