Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Oakland Raiders
- QuarterbackThe Steelers may be starting to turn things around. They have won two games in a row after starting the season with four straight losses. One of the reasons for the turnaround is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While his numbers are not elite, Roethlisberger is healthy at midseason for the first time in a couple of years. Roethlisberger can shake off tacklers, step out of trouble and find the open receiver.The Raiders probably will not win a lot of games this year, but they are a competitive team that is competing hard and giving itself a chance to win. At the center of this new attitude is quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who combines first-rate athleticism with improving passing skills. Pryor has completed 64.5 percent of his throws and throws well on the run.
- OffenseThe Steelers would like to get some more out of their running game, and they are hoping that Le’Veon Bell can provide it. He had a solid 93-yard performance against the Ravens in Week Seven and that could be his jumping-off point. Wide receiver Antonio Brown is having a solid year with 47 catches for 548 yards. Emmanuel Sanders has caught 24 passes, but he is not a gamebreaker.The Raiders have struggled on offense as they rank 25th in yards per game. However, they do have talent on their side. Running back Darren McFadden is not a star, but he is a capable back who has rushed 267 yards and is averaging 3.9 yards per carry. Denarius Moore is the Raiders’ best receiving threat, as he has caught 25 passes for 399 yards with four touchdowns.
- DefenseThe Steelers are coming back to form on the defensive side of the ball after some ordinary efforts early in the season. They rank sixth in total defense and nobody is working harder or playing more effectively than inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who has 51 tackles and five passes defensed. Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley leads the Steelers with 5.0 sacks.The Raiders are working hard on defense and they have the 12th ranked unit in the league. Former Chicago Bear Nick Roach is doing an outstanding job at middle linebacker. He leads the team with 45 tackles. Outside linebacker Kevin Burnett is right behind with 43 tackles, and he also has two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
- Special TeamsThe Steelers have done a decent job with their coverage teams, but they don’t appear to have any significant threats when they return punts or kickoffs. Shaun Suisham is having a remarkable year, as he has made 14-of-14 FG attempts. Punter Zoltan Mesko has been a disappointment.The Raiders have not allowed a punt return of longer than 23 yards all season. Sebastian Janikowski may have the strongest leg in the league, but he has lost much of his accuracy. He has made 7-of-11 FG attempts, and his .636 percentage is the worst in the league.
The Raiders are catching the Steelers at the wrong time. They are getting better and they have the momentum that comes with back-to-back wins. If Roethlisberger remains healthy, they should survive this West Coast trip. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor