With the NFL's Week 8 schedule pitting the Steelers against the Raiders in Oakland, my habit of reading everything about our next opponent, catalyzed by my "procrastination during office hours is a disease, not a crime" mantra, led me to this interesting article.
At which point I began to contemplate the extra amount of film study that would be required by both coaches and players as they prepare this week. I envisioned hundreds of hard drives running on overtime, terabytes of game film, showing on every television, projector, computer monitor, and iPad at the Steelers practice facility leading up to this Sunday's contest against two 2-4 teams.
The Steelers and Raiders are equal in the only statistic that matters in professional American football during the regular season - wins and losses. But the aforementioned article sparked a curiosity that could not be quenched by countless hours (actually, I could guess...say over 40 hours give or take) of trolling the web, mostly Raiders-centric sites, looking for articles talking about the 2013 Raiders defense - specifically regarding sacks.
I was astonished to discover that 12 different Raiders players, 3 from DE Lamarr Houston, have contributed to the 16 total team sacks through six games this season. For the Steelers, 4 players, 8 team sacks, with OLB LaMarr Woodley accounting for 5. (Can someone please explain the spelling of Lamarr vs LaMarr?)
@I am the world's most powerful fan....@
And with that power, I chose to watch (re-watch) all the Oakland Raiders' games this season, taking special note of the sacks credited and the respective impact of each one on the flow of the game. Some were MAJOR splash plays. Some were Favre-ish...or is it Strahan-ish?
So on that particular low blow, let's review:
Week 1 at IND (4/4)
(2Q 13:32) (Undercenter) A. Luck sacked at IND 32 for -2 yards (T. Branch) Off play-action bootleg, Luck was forced to scramble and eventually run out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage.
Next play: Luck to Wayne for 17-yards and a first down.
Drive result: 6 plays later, Luck to D. Allen for 20 yards. TOUCHDOWN.
(2Q 1:28) (NH, Shotgun) A. Luck sacked at IND 14 for -8 yards (L. Houston) Beating the Colts LT, Houston pushed back and spun around the middle to drag Luck down.
Next play. TImeout. Luck incomplete pass intended for Heyward-Bay.
Drive result: 1 play later, McAfee punts 45 yards.
(3Q 11:42) (Undercenter) A. Luck sacked at IND 33 for -8 yards. (T. Porter) Off the perimeter and unblocked, Porter flies into the backfield and brings down Luck, who tries to scramble but runs into #90 Raiders.
Next play. A. Bradshaw 13-yard draw run up the middle.
Drive result: 1 play later, McAfee punts 39 yards
(3Q 1:57) (Undercenter) A. Luck sacked at IND 44 for -13 yards. (J. Hunter) On 4th and short, Colts come out in a heavy run set. Play action doesn't fool the Raiders. Luck was out of the pocket and had time to just throw it away.
Drive result: Turnover on downs. Oakland's ensuing 12-play drive resulted in a Pryor TD pass to D. Moore. Raiders take the lead 17-14.
Game Notes: Zero 4Q sacks. Raiders lose 17-21.
Week 2 vs JAX (5/5)
(2Q 11:34) (NH, Undercenter) C. Henne sacked at OAK 48 for 0 yards. (B. Ross) 1st and 10, eighth play of a hurry-up offensive drive. Henne takes the snap and half-heartedly fakes a WR screen, tries to hand off to a RB that isn't there, then scrambles forward falling short of the line of scrimmage.
Drive result. 6 plays later, the Jaguars get called for Delay of Game, and now looking at third and goal from the 14. Next play, incomplete. JAX settles for a 27-yard J. Scobee field goal.
(2Q 3:29) (Undercenter) C. Henne sacked at JAX 20 for -9 yards. (C. Bilukidi) 3rd and 6. This one could go down as a team sack. Raiders rush 6, including the slot corner, with tons of pressure from L. Houston.
Drive result. Next play B. Anger punts 51 yards to OAK 29. No return. Raiders move the ball down the field and score on a 46-yard S. Janikowski FG.
At the half, the Raiders lead 10-3
It's not surprising there were no sacks by the Raiders in the third quarter - the defense only played 8 snaps (ST played 3). The Jaguars' play by play in 3Q can be summarized as one kickoff to open the half, two possessions of five plays each, each possession involving a penalty, failing to generate a first down, and resulting similarly with the punting team jogging onto the field.
(4Q 5:21) (Shotgun) C. Henne sacked at JAX 16 for -7 yards. (U. Young) Garbage time, as the Raiders are in control with a 16-point lead. On 3rd and 6, Oakland brings it on a safety blitz, untouched.
Drive result. Next play punt. Next play D. McFadden fumbles after a 27 yard scamper along the left side, ruled down by contact, challenged and then reversed! JAX has the ball.
(4Q 4:47) (Undercenter) C. Henne sacked at JAX 47 for -4 yards. (J. Hunter) Henne again fakes a quick slant, and tries to fake a draw. After all the faking, the Oline crumbles and the QB goes down.
(4Q 1:36) (Shotgun) C. Henne sacked at JAX 18 for -7 yards. (Split U. Young and T. Porter) Another safety blitz, both coming of the right side passing by first-rounder RT Luke Joeckel.
Drive result: 8 plays later, time expires with the ball at the OAK 24. End of game.
Game notes: No 1Q and 3Q sacks. But Raiders still win 19-9.
Week 3 at DEN (1/1)
Denver jumped out to a 27-7 lead by halftime. Raiders have yet to record a sack...
(3Q 2:52) (Shotgun) P. Manning sacked at OAK 15 for -2 yards (L. Houston) forced fumble, recovered by J. Hunter returned 15 yards to OAK 30. Denver has a 23 point lead and the ball at OAK 13-yard line. Peyton takes the snap. Houston blows by back-up LT Chris Clark and slams into Manning's back and the ball is jarred forward.
Drive result. Raiders recover and move the ball 70 yards down the field, ending in a HB toss and throw from McFadden to Reece for 16-yard touchdown. 14-30.
Game notes. No more sacks. Game ends with the Raiders losing 21-37.
Week 4 vs WAS (1/1)
(2Q 3:03) (Shotgun) R. Griffin sacked at OAK 49 for -10 yards (C. Woodson) The first and only Raiders sack of the game came late in the second quarter. Coming off a 3rd and 3 no gain run by Morris, Shanahan decided to go for it on 4th and 3 following a timeout. Woodson comes in off the right side, untouched and bear hugs RGIII to the ground.
Drive result. Turnover on downs. Raiders take over at their own 49. But after a sack+penalty on third down, OAK punts it away.
Game notes. Matt Flynn. Yawn. Raiders lose 14-24
Week 5 vs SD (2/2)
(2Q 2:03) (Shotgun) P. Rivers sacked at SD 37 for -9 yards (L. Houston) The Raiders are leading by 17 points, pitching a shutout. 3rd and 4, Houston rushes the left side, manhandling second year LT Mike Harris.
Drive result. Punt.
At halftime, Raiders lead 17-0
(3Q 10:11) (NH, Shotgun) P. Rivers sacked at SD 25 for -11 yards (Ke. Burnett) Woodhead couldn't finish his block. Rivers couldn't find an open receiver. Burnett gets a sack.
Drive result. Bizarre. 7 plays later, on 3rd and 1, Rivers misfires on a pass deep right to E. Royal. On fourth down, Novak's 37-yard FG attempt is blocked by T. Porter, but recovered and advanced by TE L. Green to the OAK 14. 5 plays later, Novak is good for a 35-yard FG...
Game notes. Raiders win 27-17. Not a lot of sacks, but enough hurries to force bad throws and interceptions.
Week 6 at KC (3/3)
(1Q 15:00) (Undercenter) A. Smith sacked at KC 13 for -7 yards (S. Moore) Rookie RT Eric Fisher gets beat badly. First play of the game and the QB is down.
Drive result. 5 plays later, KC punts. Raiders 3 and out.
(1Q 8:47) (Shotgun) A. Smith sacked at KC 21 for -10 yards (N. Roach) 3rd and 12. Looks like a missed assignment as the LB split the LT/LG on a delayed blitz, getting to the QB and forcing a three and out.
Drive result. Punt. Raiders also 3 and out.
(1Q 2:18) (Shotgun) A. Smith sacked at OAK 42 for -6 yards (V. Walker) On 3rd and 10, pressure by Houston forced Smith to move up into the pocket. Walker was on the ground and pulled Smith down, registering the sack. Houston cleaned up.
Drive result. Punt. Raiders run 12 plays but the drive ends with a missed field goal attempt from 51 yards out.
Game notes. KC made a good job adjusting on offense after the first quarter and did not allow another sack during the remainder of the game. Add that to the 10 team sacks by KC's defense (3.5 from T. Hali), the result was mistakes by the young QB and the Raiders lose 7-24.
Week 7 BYE
Oakland Raiders haven't won after a bye since 2002.
So even though the Raiders have registered at least one sack every game this season, fear not the discrepancies in sack totals between these two teams. I just hope the Steelers are prepared for the multiple looks of pressure we expect to see come Sunday afternoon.