PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 21: Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to stiff arm Rolando McClain #55 of the Oakland Raiders after a catch during the game on November 21 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
With all due respect to the NFL franchises on the West Coast, the Steelers seem to be playing two opponents whenever they enter the Pacific Time Zone.
And the second one may be stronger than the first.
There's the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals (from 2007 and beyond, the Cardinals play home games in Pacific Time from the first Sunday in November through the end of the season), and Pittsburgh's Week 3 opponent, the Oakland Raiders.
The Steelers are 1-5 against those teams on the road in Pacific Time since 2003. That lone win was a primetime slugfest with San Diego in Week 5 of the 2005 season.
The Steelers are 4-8 all time when facing the Raiders on the road (in Oakland or Los Angeles), including the last trip to Oakland, in which Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted four times, with two of them being returned for touchdowns, in a 20-13 loss.
It's logical to assume West Coast teams hosting those from three time zones away would have something of an advantage. If that was the case, it'd be natural to assume the converse of that would be also true, but the Steelers blew a second-half lead against the Raiders in 2009 in Pittsburgh.
Revenge was had in the form of a 35-3 thrashing of the Raiders in a wake-up call kind of game. It ignited the competitive fires of the Steelers, who had picked up a litany of fines in the "new" NFL, which had begun five weeks prior to their Week 11 game against the Raiders.
It was a poorly officiated game, which exploded almost out of control when Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour smacked Roethlisberger in the face and was ejected.
"That's one of those things that no offensive lineman likes to see, Colon said in reference to the cheap shot on Roethlisberger. "I like to think that if I was out there I would have reacted different. I know I was upset by it. But I'm not going into the game with a grudge or any type of ill will toward them. It's not a UFC match. It's a football game that we have to win."
While the Steelers destroyed the struggling Raiders, it was as intense a game as any in recent memory and. The Steelers can expect the Raiders' offense to play physically. They will need to not just expect a fight but be mindful to not react to any overboiled emotions either brought on by the game or their opponents.
The road is a powerful opponent too, especially when that road rolls through the Pacific Time Zone.