Steelers Vs. Raiders Rewind: Notes From Second Half

Sep 23, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown (84) is tackled by Oakland Raiders cornerback Joselio Hanson (23) at the O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Steelers 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Things were moving very much in the Steelers favor starting the second half of their Week 3 game against Oakland.

Upon review, the Steelers may have been closer to ending this game on their final offensive series than originally noted. Sometimes things don't work out, but the loss doesn't put Pittsburgh in the worst position. With Baltimore and Cincinnati leading the division at 2-1, the Steelers can very easily get back into this with some more time dedicated to the basics.

Let's get into the second half.

  • Let's just get this out of the way early. Ryan Mundy launched at Darrius Heyward-Bey. Phillip Wheeler dove at Roethlisberger's knee, and both will be fined. I don't know why neither were penalized, but before we crucify the officials, let's remember the regular guys very often failed to flag plays that later drew fines.
  • If Wallace had access to a lighthouse, he would have ascended the stairs and beam Roethlisberger from there, return to the end zone and catch the ball. It appeared Matt Giordano was taken down by a sniper or a blown hamstring or something, and no one else appeared to be aware of where Wallace was.
  • The Steelers should be in control of this game, but Palmer keeps making big throws. On a 3rd-and-9, he hits his receiver 10 yards down the field almost exactly three seconds after the snap. He fired a perfect strike between Cortez Allen and Larry Foote. Just a great throw. You gotta appreciate it, even if it is Carson Palmer.
  • This is a great goal line stand, and probably not coincidentally the series of plays where the Raiders didn't cut block. More on that tomorrow.
  • Anyway. GREAT job by McLendon on 2nd down, hits Stefan Wisniewski on the snap, keeping him in place when he was trying to slide down to the left. Keisel gets a big push as well, and lays down in the hole, clogging any lane McFadden may have had.
  • The Raiders slip a tight end into the end zone after what looked like some confusion wrecked the Steelers' defense. Mundy ended up covering the high and low of the left side of the end zone. Perhaps Chris Carter was supposed to drop into coverage, but he just rushed off the snap. Either way, it was a well-designed play. Would have been great to get that stop, they earned it from the previous two plays.
  • Excellent fake on-side kick by the Raiders. The only thing that saved the possession for the Steelers was that unpredictable bounce of the ball. They completely crushed Dwyer who didn't look particularly certain of what was going on.
  • Steelers absolutely needed to make them pay for it. The
  • Let me be the millionth person to say Dennis Allen looks like he ran his own lemonade stand outside his parents garage last summer.
  • By my unofficial count, that's two plays, a combined 18 yards and a first down in two games for the Heath Miller-led receiver screen to Antonio Brown. Big credit to Emmanuel Sanders, who blocks hard down field, keeping Brown free to escape up the sideline.
  • I enjoyed Roethlisberger's post game back-pat to himself for apparently calling plays they used last season. Why poke the bear? No one would know the difference anyway.
  • Whatever the call, he looks perfectly in control of this offense. On 3rd-and-8, a great throw drills Miller, who's able to shake his way to a first down.
  • Brown and Roethlisberger eye each other as the Raiders show blitz with both of their safeties. They see man coverage, and they exploit it. All Brown needs to do is make a catch and make a move, which he does. Huff isn't anywhere near capable of handling Brown in close space, and Brown makes one move and flies past him.
  • He just didn't count on Wheeler (whom I still hate for his cheap shot) making an outstanding hustle play. Wheeler rushes the line, sees the pass, and hustles back to make a play.
  • Huff takes a swipe at Brown's right arm as he's carrying the ball in his left. It upsets his balance enough that he doesn't have the ball closely protected to his body. Wheeler slides down his arms, and knocks the ball free at the goal line.
  • Reminiscent of Hines Ward's fumble at Denver in 2006. Lost it just barely before the goal line.
  • Great play by Brown, but very impressive hustle and athleticism by Wheeler...cheap-shotting punk.
  • This next chain of events is the highlight of the game.
  • Brown gets the ball and is quickly at the bottom of a pile. Redman is there with him, and the scrum plays itself out the way they usually do.
  • The ball actually bounces right up to Miller, who either doesn't realize it's between his legs in front of him, or he's unable to reach down to get it. THISCLOSE to his third touchdown of the year.
  • Richard Seymour (the Dr. Hook McCrackin of the Raiders) is trying to convince the official the ball somehow belongs to Oakland. They're going back and forth when a Raiders player starts to dive deeper into the pile.
  • Wallace sees this, and shoves the player's head. Seymour sees that and jumps after him like he's a long, skinny pork rind.
  • That sets Willie Colon off, whom I hadn't realized until this point how rotund he's become.
  • Colon and Seymour are shoving each other as if they were just waiting for the moment - like two enforcers circling each other around center ice. As they're shucking and jiving with each other, Wallace jumps over Colon to get a headshot in on Seymour.
  • He's restrained by Roethlisberger and the official as the flags fly. As the players all look to join in the mild brawl, Redman finally gets off Brown, who stands up, completely by himself, and holds the ball and his arms in the air.
  • That's not a knock on Brown. It was funny. He looks lonely. Even the official walks away from him.
  • Then the camera shows Tomlin lumbering out onto the field, and all I could think what would happen if the official for some reason saw Tomlin's intentions as hostile, and threw him out of the game for coming onto the field to fight.
  • Fortunately for everyone, the officials seem to have less ability and desire to stop the skirmish, hence justifying why Tomlin is on the field. You know he called them "men," and demanded they walk in his direction immediately. They of course follow.
  • The point? I didn't see Lemonade Magnate Dennis Allen out there.
  • Yep. I just went there.
  • I've watched the replay several times over, and I can confirm without a doubt Keenan Lewis's hit on the pass to Rod Streater was clean. Lewis clearly led with his shoulder when he drilled Mundy.
  • And it looks like Streater got Lewis's hand through his facemask. Poked an eye or something.
  • Oddly enough, Palmer was taken down by his own lineman on the same play. Great catch by the rookie from Temple.
  • Palmer sniffs the safety blitz Clark shows at the line, makes a quick throw, first down.
  • Wash, rinse repeat, with adjustments to blitzer. That's how Palmer won this game.
  • Quarterbacks can see pre-snap blitzes, it's not exactly a secret. Usually though you see the Steelers disguising it a bit better, and it's multiple blitzers, not all of whom are obviously coming.
  • The Steelers aren't timing these well, and haven't been through three games. Some of the issue with the lack of pass rush is on the lack of victories in one-on-one match-ups up front, and some of it is the preparation of their opponents for what they're doing.
  • Cornerback Pat Lee does the exact same thing to Brown Wheeler did. And lo and behold King Cheapshot recovers the fumble.
  • Just an absolutely huge turnover. The Steelers' defense had allowed points on four consecutive drives, and looked dead tired by this point. Brown is trying to make a play and it's good he did. But opposing defenses are going to remember this, and they're going to try to strip him in the open field much more often than they have.
  • Instead of putting this game on ice, the Raiders run another grueling 8-play drive and they tie the game.
  • Wallace fumbles on the ensuing drive (Wheeler again), and he recovers, fortunately. The Steelers' receivers have been huge all game, and fumbleitis is contagious.
  • Roethlisberger has Wallace well beyond the first down marker, and if he's not getting taken down, Roethlisberger hits him in stride, gains another 15 yards. That's probably at worst a long Suisham attempt to win the game.
  • Just a frustrating ending. But all isn't lost. The Steelers are down four starters - Polamalu, Harrison, Rashard Mendenhall and David DeCastro. Provided injuries start regressing toward the mean, they could have all of those players back by Week 9, which is plenty of time to get the running game working. Giving Roethlisberger another weapon would make this team an extremely difficult beat over the second half of the year. 1-2 ain't so bad.
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