The Raiders didn’t lead in the game until the clock struck 0:00 at the end of the 4th quarter but luckily for Dennis Allen and company, that’s the only time having the lead makes any difference. The Raiders were able to overcome a stout Pittsburgh defense to score the game’s last 13 points, all in the 4th quarter, to win on a 44 yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal as time expired.
The team showed impressive desire to win the game, rallying to win the game despite dealing with multiple injuries. Some of those injuries were known before the game –like the two starting cornerbacks both being out –but the Raiders also had to overcome injuries in game.
Starting WR Darrius Heyward-Bey was knocked out on a deep route that took him into the endzone. He was crossing for a ball thrown maybe a moment too late by Palmer and as the ball got there so did safety Ryan Mundy. Mundy’s helmet came up into DHB’s facemask and Heyward-Bey crumpled to the ground, rolling once until coming to a stop without moving. He was later taken off the field on a cart although he did give a thumbs off as he went off the field, to the cheer of the crowd.
After the game Allen & Palmer both said that signs out of the hospital were good. DHB had regained consciousness, was able to move and talk. It’s been announced that he will be staying overnight in the hospital for observation but it seems likely that he will be able to be released in short order. It seems unlikely that he would recover from such a serious concussion for next week’s game and the week after is the Raiders’ bye week so there is no need to hurry him back for next week’s game versus Denver and the team can instead focus on having him back versus Atlanta in week 6.
It was reported after the game that starting TE Brandon Myers also had suffered a concussion in the game. His was much more minor and it’s entirely possible that he’ll be able to suit up next week. That would be a big help for the Raiders because Myers has turned into quite a good safety valve for Palmer.
Myers was again the top receiver for the Raiders – in terms of yards – with 4 catches for 55 yards on the day. He caught every ball that was thrown to him on the night and, per ESPN, has caught every ball thrown to him for the season – a perfect 15 for 15.
Palmer also utilized the other tight ends, tossing a TD pass to backup Richard Gordon – his first career TD reception – and he used David Ausberry for a nice short throw that the former receiver was able to take 13 yards for a first down.
The biggest difference for the Raiders offense, though, was the running game which opened up more passing lanes than the team was used to this season.
It got started on the first run – McFadden took the ball behind the RG and blew through the line and into the secondary. He was able to juke his way around he safety and scooted 64 yards for his first TD of the year.
After allowing the long TD run, however, the Steeler defense clamped down to shut down the run for most of the rest of the first half. Unsurprisingly the Raiders struggled to move the ball during that time, scoring only one more time and that mostly coming from great field position after running back Jonathan Dwyer fumbled the football and CB Joselio Hanson was able to recover it.
The second half opened up some running lanes, though, and the Steelers once potent defense was unable to create difference-making plays. They hit Palmer at times but Palmer was still able to make difficult throws downfield. The Steelers were only able to sack Palmer once in the game.
The Steelers also had one INT – on the first play of the game – but that was because WR Denarius Moore slipped when transitioning from the grass to the dirt on Oakland’s playing surface and the safety behind him had a gift thrown almost right to him with no receiver there.
The Raiders were also positive in the turnover ratio for the first time in the three games they’ve played this season.
The Raiders only had the interception mentioned above while creating 3 fumbles, recovering two. The second fumble was courtesy of Pat Lee who stripped receiver Antonio Brown in the third quarter. It was perhaps the biggest momentum change of the day as it was 31-28 and Pittsburgh was driving the field. The Steelers had scored on their last two possessions prior to the fumble and Oakland desperately needed a spark.
The win was satisfying in part because it was an entire team win. While none of the squads were completely dominant, each made plays when they needed to and mostly avoided having big plays against them. Special Teams was able to make a big play when the Raiders needed a spark with Mike Goodson taking a kickoff return 51 yards in the 3rd quarter. The special teams was able to avoid some of the costly breakdowns that had plagued them in the past, too, although they did allow a punt return to be taken 72 yards for a TD and were lucky that it was nullified by a holding penalty.
The coaching staff has to be commended for the win. Dennis Allen, especially, set the tone for the day by taking risks and putting his players in a position to win. Early in the game, there was a fourth and goal play that Allen put his team in to try and get the TD. By putting his team back in to convert he showed them that he was all-in for winning and not trying to play it safe. I think the team really responded to that.
The play call was brilliant. Greg Knapp called up a fantastic play in which the Raiders lined up in one formation and then suddenly shifted to an entirely different one. I’m not even sure if they planned on running a play, the goal of the play call may have been to confuse and worry the defense by rapidly changing things to put stress on the defense as to what kind of play it would be. It’s entirely possible that the call was simply to draw the defense offsides.
If that was the purpose of the call, it worked. Ziggy Hood came across the line and ran into LG Cooper Carlisle who fell back a bit and drew the neutral zone infraction call. The Raiders were awarded a fresh new set of downs, accordingly and instead of settling for a field goal, their next play was a TD pass on a fade to Heyward-Bey.
Allen also called a gutsy surprise onside kick barely into the second half. The attempt didn’t work – the ball went out of bounds without being recovered by either team – but I think the call and the aggressive nature of going for it all out rubbed off on the rest of the team. That type of play call is hard to make, but it was the right thing to do when playing a difficult opponent like Pittsburgh.
Also to be commended was defensive coordinator Jason Tarver’s scheme. The defense wasn’t perfect and it struggled through much of the night with the Steelers passing attack. But it didn’t allow too many big plays – something that the Steelers look to get – and it was able to create two turnovers.
The defensive game plan seemed to be to work in zone a lot and not allow receivers to get deep. The Raiders played soft defense a lot, preferring to give up yards underneath their coverage instead of letting the Steelers go over the top of them. That meant the Steelers offense had some very long drives but also meant the Steelers had to continually execute to move down the field. When there were drops or miscommunications by the Steelers, the Raiders were able to force punts.
Greg Knapp's offense also stepped up and executed in both the run and pass games. McFadden ended with 113 yards on 18 carries and Palmer ended with 3 TDs and 1 INT while completing over 70% of his passes.
Finally, the team ended with only 3 more penalties for 25 yards, the second week in a row they’ve had only 3 penalties. The team now has 11 penalties for the year, totaling 61 yards. In comparison, the Steelers had 10 penalties for 81 yards in this game alone.
Or, to put it another way, last season the Raiders averaged basically 10 penalties for 85 yards per game each game last year. This year, through three games, they have only 11 penalties for only 61 yards, a remarkable improvement.
In all, this was a team win with each part of the team struggling at times and making plays at other times. The Raiders could not afford to drop 0-3 if they had any hope of making the playoffs this year. Now, they face a tough but beatable Denver next week in Denver and could go into their bye a much more solid 2-2. There is a lot of football left to play but for one week, at least, Raider Nation can be happy with their team’s success.
For more Raiders news & analysis, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews
Barksdale also gone? Dang - DVD, Chekwa and Barksdale already gone, this new administration don't mess around!
Would have preferred if they had been given one more year, some players develop late, and it's not like we bring aboard stars, but guess they know what they are doing! Just hoped we would have perhaps received some late rd picks or excess players at least!
A win's a win, but I wouldn't call it a solid win. We gave up 31 points before the 4th Quarter; we had some defensive issues. I wouldn't even say that Knapp's play-calling improved; or that our offense was good. We had a handful of plays come together for us. Without the 64 yard TD run by McFadden, he puts up another less than stellar performance of 17 carries for 49 yards. Now Palmer changed the protection before that 64 yard run, to a more power block protection, and that sprung McFadden behind the RG.
If the running game was dismal and McFadden didn't have that run, then we lose the game. We still have failed to see a good consistent running game out of McFadden in the ZBS. He is averaging about 2 yards per carry without the 64 yard run, and we need 4-5 yards per carry out of him. Palmer was the reason we won this game, not game planning.
Our defense is still having problems overshooting their gap assignments and over pursuing the QB on pass rush. We cannot continue to do this and have it go our way every time. The way we are going to beat Manning is creating coverage sacks. We cannot afford to blitz him, we will play right into his hands if we do. The way we beat him is by dropping 7 in coverage and cover the WRs, and let him go through his check downs, and get coverage sacks from the front four. Make him play our game, don't give him the opportunity to beat us with his read-and-react offensive play calling. Make him run the plays his coach sends in. That is how we are going to beat Denver. If we blitz, and create pressure; Manning will destroy us; especially on 3rd downs. Stop the run, get coverage sacks, no blitzing.
JUST WIN, BABY
@Raider Nate 75 I meant a "solid win" that we earned - it wasn't a situation where Pittsburgh wasn't playing well or the refs handed us the game like Seattle's "win" last night. We played well enough to earn the victory.
So far as Manning - do you really believe we have the DBs to create coverage sacks on Manning when Ryan Tannehill picked us apart a couple weeks ago? Maybe next season. This year we have to "just win baby" - whatever it takes.
@Indy! That is why we don't need to blitz. We need more than the CBs to cover, we will need the safeties and linebackers to take away the dump offs. Have the safeties play closer to the LOS and help plug the running lanes and short passes; have the CBs play press coverage. If you can, double cover Moore and Decker. Let the LBs cover the dump offs and TE. Take away Manning's ability to call the play at the line and make adjustments, force him to rely on his OC for play calling, cover/double team, and force coverage sacks; and you will beat Manning. That's how the Pats did it for years. Denver doesn't have the pass protrection.
I think it is doable, even with a thin roster at CB. You cannot give these WRs space, or a 5 yard cushion. Peyton is all about short passes; force him to go long because he doesn't have the arm strength nor the protection.
@Raider Nate 75 No doubt, we need the D-Line to play up to the best of their ability to free up the LBs in particular! The LBs need to do a solid job of covering, and the Safeties needs to help by coming up (wouldn't be surprised if we went to nickel a lot)!
... But if you play the Safeties all the way up and use press on the outside, you'll have an issue jamming the receivers for an entire game without having them burned at some point (an Manning will see it) - especially as both Thomas and Decker are huge compared to what we have out there, and Huffy ain't comfortable at CB yet!
It will be interesting to see, but there is no doubt that Manning is the threat in that game! Gotta cover his short throws efficiently to stop them!
A good solid win that we really needed. Allen gets a lot of credit for loosening up a little and taking some chances. We should be attacking the other teams aggressively ALL the time. Nobody expects much from us - there's nothing to lose this year! It's better to die standing than sit back and let a team run over us like Miami did last week. We can play smart and conservative when we have a better team a year or two down the road - right now we need to take some chances.
DMC got going too - hope that's an omen of good things coming.
And Carson! Come on haters - give it up! The man played another solid game with minimal mistakes - clutch play when we needed it. Show some love for the man - he got us the win!
Always great to beat Pittsburgh too. But hey - they have a habit of dropping a game or two every year that they should win. We need to go out there next week and prove this wasn't a fluke - it was a new direction. Take down Denver and get back in the race.
@Indy! It is amazing what happens when WRs run their routes and catch the ball, suddenly the QB looks amazing and where was when they don't the QB looks awful. Far to much blame was put on Carson (who is running WCO for the very first time in his NFL career). Carson is a very good QB and without him we would be truly terrible!
The keys to this game was the OL and WR finally working out what to do, wearing out the very large Steeler DL with going no huddle and in the 4th their OL getting all sorts of pressure, because for once our defense was having proper breaks and managing to catch their breath.
Although, i still wasn't to impressed with our running game. Yep Dmac got over 100 yards but apart from that we actually had another slow game, however what that huge run did do was make the Steelers defense think about both the passing game and running game... and when D's do that, it all becomes a little easier. The 1st 2 weeks, all they had to do was protect the pass as they knew the runs were coming to nothing and like with Pittsburgh on Sunday who couldnt run on us, we lost!
As Hue Jackson rightly said, you run to win games and you throw to score points!
@Indy! Palmer deserves his due, he had a good game and showed some poise! Still not impressed with his first two games this season, but hopefully this is a vision of what awaits!
And agreed - an aggressive and unpredictable team is what can help us to some wins! The division is still wide open, so we better seize every opportunity we get!
Such a great win and against a tough team. The team did an excellent job of staying in the game despite the injuries to the secondary, this game could have easily been lopsided. Kudos to CP for an excellent well managed game. He took what they gave him and he took a little more, just enough to win. I hope this keeps the CP haters at bay for awhile longer :-) Glad Dmac got his running shoes going, he got a huge chunk on one fantastic run but it's still progress and against a tough D. I hope the line gets better every week, that was a good sign.
I know the flags are usually an issue and I'm really glad we only had 3 but these refs have to go, not just in our game where they missed at least two pass interference calls but in other games around the league as well.
I hear you on the refs. Normally people would be saying there go those Raider fans again, but now it is happening all over the league. They missed the illegal bock on Huff when Pitt wen for it on 4th and 1, which eventually led to their first touchdown instead of 4th and 11, then they missed the pass interference call just before the DHB collission, they were missing Pitt's O Line holidng on our D line all through the game, and they did not call the illegal helmet to helmet hit on a defenseless receiver when DHB went down.
The real kicker, however, is that ESPN when reviewing the game did not mention any of these. They mentioned how upset everyone shoud be about the illegal chop block the Raiders made just before the game ending field goal that might have put them out of position.