Raiders rely on defense to gut out win versus Steelers, 21-18

The Raiders moved to 3-4 in a rocky win over the Pittsburgh Steelers this afternoon. Still, with wins difficult to come by in the NFL, any victory is welcomed for both the Raiders team and fans.

The highlight of the game took place on the first offensive snap of the game, when the Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor faked a handoff to Darren McFadden that caused most of the Steelers’ defense to bite. Pryor then took the ball around the right side of the line and down the field 93 yards, out-running many of the Steelers’ defenders in the process.

The run set an NFL record for the longest run by a QB in NFL history. It also set a team record for the longest run, beating out the previous team-records of 92 yards, set by Marcus Allen in 1989.

The Raiders were able to capitalize, shortly thereafter, on great field position after RB Rashad Jennings was able to get a hand on a Steelers punt, making it go very short. It wasn’t officially considered a blocked punt because the ball traveled beyond the line of scrimmage but the result was mostly the same – a very short field.

The Raiders were able to bring the score to 14-0 after a couple of nice Darren McFadden runs, one of which was out of the Wildcat formation that he sometimes ran in Arkansas.

The Raiders kept the Steelers to only a field goal in the first half while adding another McFadden TD right before halftime. It was the last score the Raiders were able to get in the game.

The Raiders continued their trend of struggling offensively in the second half of games as they were shut out by the Steelers defense in the second half.

This marks three of the last four games in which the Raiders have been shut out in the second half, failing to score after halftime versus Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Washington. They were able to score one field goal, only, versus Sand Diego in the second half.

In fact, the Raiders offense has not scored a second half touchdown since week 3 versus the Denver Broncos.

The second half of the Raiders Steelers game was mostly forgettable until it was inside thefinal  two minutes. At that time, the Steelers were able to engineer a march down the field and get a rushing TD to bring the score to 16-21.

In the ensuing 2 point conversion, the Raiders looked to have hemmed Emmanuel Sanders into the backfield, but he squeezed past a couple of Raiders defenders and the Steelers brought the game within a field goal, with the score at 18-21.

The Steelers wouldn’t have been in that position were it not for a very questionable defensive holding call on Brandian Ross. Ross actually intercepted Ben Roethlisberger on 1st and Goal but the play was negated by the penalty but replays failed to show any clear infraction by Ross.

Nevertheless, the penalty was called and the defense wasn’t able to hold the Steelers offense out of the end zone, which put the Special Teams “hands” team in the position to make or break the game with the Steelers attempting an onside kick.

Raiders RB Rashad Jennings, who got his hand on the Steelers punt earlier, made another big special teams play by getting his hands on the onside kick and giving the Raiders the ball. The Raiders ran out most of the clock with three McFadden runs that made the Steelers use their two remaining time outs and then took the clock down to 18 seconds in the game.

The Steelers got the ball back at that time but weren’t able to drive down the field in the 18 remaining seconds and with no time outs.

The Steelers’ last possession had a poor chance, anyway, due to a good Marquette King punt and solid coverage in which the punt team hemmed the returner in – he actually went backwards a bit – and then drew a hold, bringing the Steelers back to their own 2 yard line to start the drive.

Some final quick hits:

-The Raiders got some breaks to go their way in the game including some lucky bounces of the ball and the Steelers’ kicker missing two field goal attempts.

-The Raiders were penalized another 6 times for 39 yards, bringing them to a total of 50 penalties for the season. That averages out to slightly more than 7 penalties per game. They are now averaging 53.6 yards in penalties per game.

-The Raiders struggled on both kickoff returns – where Taiwan Jones got his first time returning a kickoff since his rookie season – and punt returns- where Jacoby Ford had a couple of mistakes that were lucky to not cost the Raiders more. The return game will likely be a point of focus for GM Reggie McKenzie in the upcoming draft.

-The Raiders held the Steelers as a team and lead rusher Le’Veon Bell to 1.8 yards per carry, each. The team is now in the top 5 in rushing yards allowed through seven seasons.

-The Raiders face the Philadelphia Eagles next week, also at home in Oakland, and they look to be playing the Eagles at the right time.

About Asher Mathews

Head writer for TFDS Sports, covering the Oakland Raiders and NFL at large. Proud Purdue alum. Follow me on Twitter!

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