Raiders fall to Steelers and out of first

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger runs 16 yards and dives under Oakland Raiders Stanford Routt  for a touchdown in the second quarter against the at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 21, 2010.  UPI/Archie Carpenter Photo via Newscom

Short-lived is a good way to describe the Raiders time at the top of the AFC West division. The loss today
coupled with a win by the Kansas City Chiefs means the Raiders now find themselves back in second
place in the division. Quarterback Jason Campbell started out two for two, but it was all downhill from
there as he finished by completing just five of 17 passes. And it wasn’t entirely his fault; the offensive
line looked like they stayed in Oakland this week. A lack of concentration combined with poor execution
was the cause of Oakland’s offensive woes today in the 35-3 loss. Coach Tom Cable was clear following
the game that the need for a change at quarterback was not eminent moving forward, “Jason Campbell
will be the starter next week, there’s no question there. We made a change and as you saw, it didn’t
really make much of a difference.”

Cable credited the Steelers for shutting down the Raider’s rushing attack and then “turning up the
blitz” on Jason Campbell as the reason why Campbell was pulled from the game. Cable insinuated that
Campbell just got flustered and instead of having his starter’s confidence rattled anymore, the decision
was made to insert Bruce Gradkowski.

“They played very well and we didn’t,” said Cable as he explained the loss. “We were in a bunch of 3rd
and longs early which is indicative of not running the ball and ineffective passing,” he continued. “Not a
very good day for us, but it won’t be a game that defines us, we have got to move on and get ready for
Miami. Don’t sit around and hang our heads, we have a good team coming in (next week) in Miami.”

The Oakland Raiders came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the league, winning three
straight and four out of their last five contests. In a league that has been filled with parity this year,
Oakland’s consistency was surprising for a team who has not won more than five games in a season
since 2002.

Seems as thought everything this year goes back to 2002, when the Raiders made the Super Bowl in
what was their last winning season. And that’s because the team has been surprisingly effective this
year despite having a very young and inexperienced football team. The Raiders just stumbled today as
many teams have this season coming off of the bye week. It was evident from about the mid-second
quarter that this game may end up being a learning experience for this squad—with lots of tape for
them to work on and correct their technique.

Ironically, it was about that midway point of the second quarter, or perhaps a little later that I posted on
the TFDS Facebook page, “(the) Steelers are punching the Raiders in the mouth right now. Raiders must
counter or else.” A few plays later, it was Ben Roethlisberger who got punched in the face under the
facemask by defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who was ejected from the game for the cheap shot. A
few plays earlier on that drive, Seymour was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after getting
tangled up with a Steelers offensive lineman.

It wasn’t the first time that Raider Nation has witnessed Richard Seymour losing his head on the field.
This time, however, Seymour’s lack of self control left the Raiders without his presence for the second
half of a game where they were already without Nnamdi Asomugha in the secondary. Suddenly the
Raiders’ defense was without their two most influential leaders.

But it was not Seymour’s fault, nor was it the fault of the Raiders’ defense that they lost this game
today. Really the group that has to be blamed for the loss, in spite of not having that many penalties
called against them in this game, is the offensive line. After three games where it looked like this group
may be better than advertised, the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme and legendary play caller Dick LeBeau gave
the Raiders’ offensive line more than they could handle today. Clearly the defensive gameplan was to
shut down Darren McFadden and the NFL’s number two rushing attack and that’s just what they did.
The Raiders’ offensive line could not get their stuff together in this game whether it was getting their
schemes right for running the football or getting their protection called right when they tried to pass.

Jason Campbell will take some of the assault for the loss in Pittsburgh today, but the problem was
certainly deeper than Campbell himself. The only thing left for the Raiders to do now is board the plane,
head back to Oakland and get ready for a tough Miami Dolphins team who has had a few extra days
to prepare for them. After a shut out at the hands of the Chicago Bears, the Fins will be looking for an
emotional victory in Oakland to send a message to the NFL and themselves that they are the team they
think they are and not the one from their last effort, a 16-0 shutout against the Bears.

It is imperative to the rest of the Oakland Raiders’ season that they not let the Dolphins send that
message against them on their home grass or else they could still end up with only five wins at the
end of this season. Two losses in a row could do a number on a team’s confidence that has now been
shaken.

To add injury to insult, it appears that starting defensive end Trevor Scott may be done for the year with
a torn ACL. Scott had 22 tackles and a half sack coming into the game this week and finished this game
with one more sack. Head Coach Tom Cable said Scott’s initial injury report is a torn ACL in his left knee
and, “if that’s the case, it would take some time.” Probably the rest of the season, so look for Scott to
be placed on IR on Monday…the Raiders will be looking for someone to come into town and back up
starters Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston.

Better luck next week Raider Nation.

Follow me on Twitter: Raidersblogger

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Email me your Raiders Questions: Bret@tfdssports.com

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger runs 16 yards and dives under Oakland Raiders Stanford Routt  for a touchdown in the second quarter against the at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 21, 2010.  UPI/Archie Carpenter Photo via Newscom
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