Week Nine Steelers Vs Raiders Second Half Notes And Observations

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to climb back into the win column with a game-winning drive at the end of regulation on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, edging above .500 once again. Below are my notes and observations from the first half of the game.

  • The Steelers defense got off to a hot start in the second half, registering two run stops on first and second down, only to hold Latavius Murray to minimal gain on third and 12 on a pass. Though the back slipped, he would have been easily held short by some distance.
  • Linebacker Ryan Shazier popped the ball loose once Murray got up off his feet, and it initially looked as though Mike Mitchell recovered for the Steelers and returned it for a touchdown. Unfortunately, he not only stepped out of bounds, he failed to establish himself back inbounds before picking up the ball. In doing so, possession stayed with the fumbling team.
  • But the ensuing punt was partially blocked by Bud Dupree, rushing up the middle, resulting in just a 25-yard net as it rolled out of bounds at the 46. But the offense couldn’t take advantage.
  • After no gain for DeAngelo Williams on first down and three on second down, Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Darrius Heyward-Bey on third and seven, firing off-target and causing the receiver to have to reach behind him to attempt to catch it.
  • After a 14-yard completion to Amari Cooper, Mitchell briefly came off the field after putting a shoulder into the receiver, replaced by Robert Golden. He proceeded to make the next two tackles, first on a breakaway 15-yard run as the last line of defense and then on an 18-yard reception after Will Allen failed to bring the receiver down initially.
  • Later, on third and five from the Steelers’ 37, Derek Carr had a completely clean pocket from which to deliver a 36-yard completion to the one. Allen was late moving over to cover the deep route. The Raiders scored two plays later.
  • Typical of the afternoon for Jacoby Jones, Golden had let a defender free on the ensuing kick return, which resulted in him being tackled at the 12.
  • On second and 13, Martavis Bryant dropped a potential 86-yard touchdown pass on a well-thrown ball down the field, juggling it as he went out of bounds an ultimately losing it altogether. It was one of the better throws Roethlisberger had all game.
  • That was following with an ill-advised cross-body throw on third and 13 as he stepped up into the pocket, looking for Antonio Brown, but having given the cornerback ample time to make up the ground for the interception.
  • It was ultimately no harm, no foul, however, as Mitchell forced a fumble two plays later on a crushing tackle on Murray that ultimately forced him to leave the game to be evaluated for a concussion.
  • Williams ripped off a 12-yard run on first down after Marcus Gilbert athletically walled off the inside half of the lane off right tackle.
  • After a 22-yard dump off reception to Williams, Roethlisberger came back to Bryant for a 15-yard reception that put the Steelers in field goal range. Chris Boswell ultimately attempted a 41-yard field goal that went wide left, his first miss of the year, and I see nothing discernibly wrong with the snap or hold. The snap was a bit high, but it was corralled and down for Boswell to strike.
  • The Raiders responded with a 21-yard reception over Blake to start, crossing midfield, but their efforts to take advantage of the Steelers’ miss stalled there, ultimately punting 34 yards to the nine.
  • Williams closed out the third quarter with a 53-yard run, running with power off the left side with two tight ends, a fullback, and a pulling guard, all four hitting on their blocks.
  • Once to the 14-yard line, the Steelers ran a screen for Bryant, which was sort of telegraphed by setting Jesse James out in front of him. But James did an excellent job on his block, and ended up picking off two defenders as Bryant made two miss on his own for the 14-yard score.
  • On the following kickoff, Roosevelt Nix blew up the returner, knocking the ball loose, recovered by Anthony Chickillo. Roethlisberger went right back to James from the four-yard line, hauling in his first touchdown.
  • Suddenly the Steelers were up by 14 with 11 minutes to play. But the Raiders responded quickly, aided by a Boswell kickoff out of bounds that started them on the 40. They ran four plays, each gaining at least 10 yards, the final a 19-yard touchdown run from the backup fullback, on which Allen badly whiffed.
  • It looked as though the offense would not rest after Roethlisberger hit Brown for 15 yards and then Williams found another 22 yards on the ground of the first two plays of the responding drive, but things went cold from there.
  • After two incomplete passes, Roethlisberger was sacked as Aldon Smith beat Alejandro Villanueva, and on the way to the ground, the outside linebacker landed on Roethlisberger’s foot. He left the game and is expected to miss the next game as well.
  • After an excellent 48-yard punt inside the 10, with an even better tackle from Heyward-Bey, though, the Raiders were able to drive from the seven to the Steelers’ 23-yard line, due to a series of unfortunate events.
  • The defense actually stood up and forced a three-and-out, but Tomlin put Brown back to return the punt, which he fumbled. The Raiders recovered at the Steelers’ 39.
  • After a 12-yard reception, the Steelers stepped up a second time, forcing an incompletion on third and five, but this time Shazier was flagged for the team’s first roughing the passer penalty of the season.
  • All of this became moot, though, when Carr threw to Ross Cockrell in the end zone on third down, returned to the 24.
  • After the interception, Landry Jones put the Steelers into the four-minute offense looking put the game away. It certainly looked as though he was doing well, even converting a third and 11 after a false start, but the completion was called back when they were called for setting a pick.
  • The resulting third-and-21 pass was admittedly a poor one, failing to hit Williams on a dump off over the middle, stopping the clock in the process.
  • A poor 40-yard punt to the 31 set the Raiders up well to respond, ultimately hitting on a 38-yard touchdown reception on which Lawrence Timmons was assigned to carry Michael Crabtree up the seam to account for a safety blitz.
  • With a tie game and now 1:15 to play, the beginning of Jones’ game-winning drive began with a hold that partially negated a 19-yard run.
  • After misfiring into double coverage on second and two, Jones connected with Brown on a catch-and-run of 57 yards down to the 15-yard line.
  • A couple of quick rushes of five and nine yards put the ball on the one-yard line with four-seconds remaining, where Boswell kicked the game-winning field goal, finishing three-of-four on the day.
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