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Raiders Columnist: Steelers Conquering Quarterbacks, But Not Opposing Defenses

By Matt Popchock
Terrelle Pryor

(File Photo: Thearon Henderson/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND, Calif. (93-7 THE FAN) — Jeannette legend Terrelle Pryor got a win against his hometown team, but he had help, and not just help from the mistake-prone Steelers.

His NFL record-setting 93-yard touchdown run, which made a world of difference in a 21-18 decision, caught even his own teammates off guard.

According to Steve Corkran in his report for The San Jose Mercury News, the play was a read-option, where Pryor should give the ball to running back Darren McFadden or keep it, depending upon how the outside linebacker reacts to McFadden.

“[Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr] Woodley bit hard…which left Pryor one fewer defender to worry about on the right side of the Raiders line,” Corkran wrote. “All that remained were for right offensive tackle Matt McCants to seal the edge and wide receiver Rod Streater to seal off strong safety Troy Polamalu.”

Click here to read the full story by Corkran.

Beyond that play, however, Dick LeBeau’s defense turned in a typically strong performance against a less experienced quarterback. Pryor only gained 13 more yards on eight more scrambles, and he was limited to 10-of-19 passing for 88 yards, throwing two picks.

What really caught the Steelers off guard, and what seems to be a recurring problem during their 2-5 start, is, according to Mercury Times columnist Mark Purdy, opposing teams have adjusted to Todd Haley’s offense, and the Steelers have had trouble counter-adjusting.

“We are better in the secondary,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen told the newspaper. “We do a better job of covering. We do a better job of keeping the ball in front of us. Those guys are doing a nice job of understanding what we’re trying to ask them to do. It’s allowed us to do some different things from a defensive standpoint. We can get a little more aggressive.”

“It comes down to the way cornerback Michael Jenkins positioned himself perfectly to get his fourth-quarter interception. It comes down to the way Woodson remembered his video study and blew up an attempted Steelers screen pass by reading his keys and tackling Le’Veon Bell for a 2-yard loss,” Purdy wrote. “All of it mattered in a game where the Steelers made a late push but couldn’t get over the hump.”

Click here to read the full column by Purdy.

It was back to square one for rookie Le’Veon Bell and the running game, which collectively managed just 35 yards against the Raiders. To be fair, you might say it was back to square two or three, so to speak, for Ben Roethlisberger, who wasn’t as marksman as he was on his last trip to Oakland.

Big Ben threw for 275 yards, but his one touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders was three fewer than his last game in Oakland, he had an unlucky interception late in the game, and he was sacked five times.

Roethlisberger, as any NFL player should, still holds Tom Brady in high regard, as he said when he spoke to the media on the South Side today. But he also passed the buck on the issue of whether or not the offense needs to be more aggressive.

“That would be a good question for the offensive coordinator,” he said Tuesday.

The Steelers, with an offensive line that could be charitably described as patchwork, might not have a choice against the Patriots, who, unlike the Steelers, have found ways to continue winning despite significant roster attrition.

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