Much has been made about the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers have not won in Oakland in some time. Even though it is a small sample size—just three games—you would have to go all the way back to 1995 to find the last time Pittsburgh traveled to play the Oakland Raiders and actually came out with a win.
The Steelers played the Raiders in Oakland in 2006 in a year in which the Raiders went 2-14. The home team won 20-13. The two played again in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. Oakland had 4-12 records in both seasons. They won both games by three points apiece, first 34-31 and then 21-18.
None of that concerns Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who said that “it’s cool” to get a chance to head out to Oakland to play a game. “If you respect sports, you respect fans and venues, it’s a neat one. That is what makes it fun”, he said.
The Raiders are obviously one of the leagues most historic franchises, but it’s been a while since they’ve been relevant, outside of one good regular season a couple of years ago. They have been as inept as anybody since Jon Gruden beat his own team in the Super Bowl in 2002. With Mike Tomlin on the staff.
Unlike Tomlin, Roethlisberger did acknowledge that there are some added difficulties in playing on the west coast. “The environment, the team, the travel. A little bit of everything”, he said “I have been doing it for a while and have heard other people talk about it. Whether you are going to the elevation in Denver or going to the West Coast, I have heard people say if it’s under 24 hours it doesn’t affect your body”.
The Steelers had better figure out whatever it is that they need to figure out that will allow them to win this game, because they can scarcely afford to lose three in a row. Especially not with the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints as the next two teams on the schedule, before a neutered Cincinnati Bengals team travels to Heinz Field to close out the regular season.
One thing they are evidently doing differently is leaving earlier than normal. Not a day earlier, as west-coast teams do when they travel to the east since they’re losing time rather than gaining, but leaving earlier in the day on Saturday than they have in the past when playing out west.
Everything fades into the background, however, once the game starts and it’s just two football teams competing. That includes their prior history during the season.
“You saw what they did last week against one of the best teams in football, fought them all the way to the end”, Roethlisberger said of the Raiders pushing the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. “We can’t worry about records. I have never won there. That becomes a challenge as well”.