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Steelers Vs. Raiders Rewind: Notes from the First Half


The Steelers completely dominated Oakland through the first 30 minutes of play of their Week 3 game.

Except, they didn't.

Penalties and defensive gaffes kept this game close despite Pittsburgh's massive advantage in time of possession and yards. They left the door open the whole first half, and walked into the locker room up just 17-14.

Here are my notes upon a second viewing.

  • Nice to see the first Steelers' interception of the season coming off a receiver slipping at or around second base. A nice return by Ryan Clark, and he may have been in position to make a play on that throw. Would have been a nice throw, something Palmer managed to do nearly the entire game.
  • I was on Trib Live Radio before this game and wondered there if the Steelers' second half success against the Jets was more due to a substandard quarterback as opposed to outstanding coverage. Palmer threw well, the Steelers struggled throughout this game. I think I have my answer.
  • I thought, at the time, I'd hate the end-around call to Mike Wallace on second down on their first touchdown drive. I don't really like running plays with guys who don't usually run through holes, and Wallace confirmed that as he hesitated way too long behind right tackle Marcus Gilbert. It really was just that, though; Wallace caught the same virus the Steelers running backs have. Aversion to hitting the hole.
  • Miller's touchdown is a Behind The Steel GIF, and we'll post that tomorrow. For now I'll just say Todd Haley's offense is so wonderfully simplified, it shouldn't be a surprise Roethlisberger is having so much success in it.
  • On the McFadden touchdown run, Brett Keisel exposes his intentions pre-snap, something that Palmer (and everyone else watching) notices. Palmer shifts the blocking away from him, which should have opened up a crease for Lawrence Timmons to shoot into the backside B gap (which seemed to be his intention) to make a play. Without knowing the exact play call, I hesitate to call Timmons "lazy," but he really does not flow well to the ball, and the Raiders do a good job of sealing the edge. Without a linebacker to clean up, those kinds of plays will happen.
  • Larry Foote read the play bouncing outside, which was the exact crease McFadden was looking for in their zone scheme. McFadden is a great running back, and he makes this play work, but It's a poor angle from Timmons and a poor read by Foote. The inside linebackers in a 3-4 defense are the guys who typically make the most tackles. They both essentially took themselves out of this play.
  • It doesn't help that Ryan Mundy does a poor job of breaking down and making the tackle, and for whatever reason Keenan Lewis decided to aid in McFadden's efforts to get to the pylon by shoving him toward it instead of simply diving at his legs and tripping him up.
  • This play is a collection of defensive failure by the Steelers, but credit to McFadden on making a great run.
  • Kelvin Beachum enters the game on 2nd-and-2 in the ol' Trai Essex Eligible Tight End position. An interesting commentary on the Steelers' pass protection on the left side.
  • There's Mike Wallace doing some more of that one-trick pony stuff. I'm so tired of the amount of big third-down catches in the middle of the field he's making. If he wants to get paid, he really needs to show he can make big plays.
  • There's a big difference between playing off a receiver in coverage and failing to know the situation. The Steelers have a 3rd-and-2 situation, and Michael Huff starts seven yards off Emmanuel Sanders. At the snap, the cornerback drops back another four yards. Sanders catches the ball a yard behind the line of scrimmage, with the cornerback 11 yards away from him.
  • It appears to be a call at the line of scrimmage, a good example of how this offense is clicking for the receivers and Roethlisberger.
  • Oh, and Huff whiffs on the tackle too.
  • Big plays make games, though. The Steelers completely dominated Oakland through one quarter, and led 14-7.
  • The Steelers' offense cools down after two penalties (Ramon Foster for a false start and a Willie Colon holding penalty). Roethlisberger makes a pretty nice throw to the side line for a wide open Brown who can't get his feet down. It's a tough play...but...ya gotta come down with that, don't you? Just sayin'...
  • Brown seems to feel the same way, smiling on his way back to the huddle as if he wished he had it back. He'll make plenty of those catches, but that one took a potential 3rd-and-middle and left it at 3rd-and-a-mile.
  • Ya wanna know why Baron Batch suddenly started getting carries? Because on his first run, he gets the handoff and runs full speed into the hole. For all the savagery the offensive line has taken (most of it fair), Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer need to shoulder some of it as well. Batch is less talented than either of them, and noticeably so, but he simply takes the ball and attacks the hole. He gets low upon contact, and squirts ahead for another yard.
  • Clearly, Haley is sending a message. He's committed to running in short yardage situations, and he's going to find someone who can run in short yardage situations.
  • Batch had proportionally the same success as the other running backs (three carries for seven yards), but Batch picked up a first down. The pile moved forward when Batch ran the ball. That's good enough for me in many ways.
  • That last comment scares me at how low my standards have fallen for a running game.
  • I'd love to see the replay angle the official used to determine there is conclusive evidence showing Heath Miller failed to make that catch. Obviously, such a replay exists because the official could not overturn a call on the field without it. So if anyone ever finds that, please let me know, cuz I haven't seen it yet.
  • Ha! See?? I TOLD you Jason Worilds was still on this team! He's right there, picking up a 15-yard penalty. And you guys all thought his lack of stats suggested he wasn't even on the field...
  • Blitzing Palmer was very tough, which is a big part of the reason the Steelers generated so little pressure all game. They threw a bunch of looks at him, and they always kept an outlet receiver home. Palmer threw into the blitz with success as any well-prepared and talented passer should.
  • I'm going to throw myself off the roof now.
  • The goal line D looks great, Oakland tried to outflank them, it was read well and the tackle was made. Absolutely no clue what Brett Keisel was doing, but it gave them a fresh set of downs, and they eventually found Ryan Mundy in coverage. If the Steelers defense is going to be successful, it must hide Ryan Mundy at all costs.
  • No, I'm not saying that to be funny. I'm completely serious.
  • It's a great throw by Palmer, though.
  • This game really shouldn't be tied. It shouldn't be 17-14 at the half (after an excellent drive led by Roethlisberger). I didn't have a good feeling at halftime.
Second Half coming soon...