By Paul Wexler
RaiderBeat.com Staff Writer
The big play is back — This time on special teams, Steelers kick returner Stefan Logan returned the opening kickoff 83 yards to set up the great field position for Pittsburgh’s first drive. Last week 10 plays of 20 yards or more spelled doom for the Raiders against the Cowboys.
Comfort food – Justin Fargas got the start at running back, with Darren McFadden coming in after the Raiders made a first down.
Play of the 1st Quarter — Raiders defense holds on fourth-and-one deep inside their 10-yard line. Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall went up the middle but was met by the entire defensive line. Defensive end Jay Richardson got a nice surge.
Good sign for the Silver and Black– The Raiders have played well in games in which they didn’t fall behind by too much in the early going.
Roethlisberger has found the matchup he likes – Big Ben is picking on strong safety Tyvon Branch, who is having trouble covering the Steelers wide receivers one-on-one. Look for the Steelers to continue to try to exploit this mismatch.
Crowd control– The Raiders have done a good job keeping the sold-out crowd out of the game. Heinz Field can get loud. We feel it shake in the press box, yet outside the few big plays the Raiders have kept the Steelers from maintaining any momentum.
Where’s the pressure? — Rothelisberger is getting all day to make decisions. The pressure is arriving too late. Hence, the receivers are getting loose on the safeties.
Defense bends but won’t break – First, the Raiders defense stops the Steelers on fourth-and-one in the first quarter. Now, safety Hiram Eugene picks off Roethlisberger in the end zone late in the second quarter. The Raiders are keeping the Steelers off the scorboard and giving the offense a chance to win the game in the second half.
Center Samson Satele is out with a calf injury. He has been replaced by Chris Morris. Left guard Robert Gallery is out with a lower back injury. His return is questionable. Offensive lineman Langston Walker is in at left guard.
The Steelers are blitzing to test the patchwork Raiders offensive line. Gradkowski has almost no time to throw. The run game needs to step up and help take pressure off the embattled quarterback.
Roethlisberger just surpassed 3,000 yards passing for the fourth straight season.
Linebacker Trevor Scott has recorded three sacks since moving to weak-side linebacker against the Cowboys.
Crowd is booing the Steelers – Gradkowski may have had the best drive of the Raiders season, as he led the Raiders on an 11-play, 57-yard drive to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Big play hurts the Raiders yet again– A 57-yard pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes put the Steelers on the Raiders 3-yard line, where Mendenhall scored on the next play.
Apparently his arm is good enough — Gradkowski shows off his “gun,” making managing general partner Al Davis proud. The deep pass goes for 75 yards to receiver Louis Murphy, who used a stutter step at the 20 to get him past the defender and into the end zone.