This season has been all about renewal for the Oakland Raiders. A renewed commitment to excellence has the Silver and Black atop the AFC West for the first time in seven long years. Along the way, the Raiders have helped to renew many of the classic rivalries of the past. By doing a sweep on the first lap around their divisional foes, Tom Cable’s squad has sent a stern message to the league. Make no mistake, this team is for real.
This Sunday, in Pittsburgh, the Raiders have a chance to end an infamous streak while continuing a not so well known one as well.
While there are no moral victories in the NFL, a win on Sunday would snap the hideous streak of 7 years of 11 or more losses by virtue of the Raiders notching their 6th win of the season.
In addition, this could also be the second straight win in Pittsburgh and the third in a row overall against the Steelers.
Perhaps the most important factor of all will be Jason Campbell channeling his inner Gradkowski. JC’s performances have helped the Raiders to notch wins in each of their last three contests. While Campbell hasn’t always been the picture of perfection he certainly is making plays at important moments.
Last year the Big Gradkowski threw for over three hundred yards and two scores as he led the Raiders to victory in a stunning 4th quarter comeback. While the Raiders would prefer not to leave it as late on Sunday, they’ll welcome a win any way they can get it. Rest assured that Campbell will factor heavily in attacking a less than stellar Steelers’ secondary.
Like most games in the NFL, this contest will be decided in the trenches.
The renewed commitment to stopping the run must continue if Richard Seymour and his fellow front seven have any designs on disrupting the Pittsburgh gameplan. While the Steelers could be without Hines Ward, they will still feature a deep threat in receiver Mike Wallace and a game changer in running back Rashard Mendenhall. Getting consistent pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and slowing the ground game are the keys to unlocking another Raider win.
With all the recent Raider love in the media it could be easy for this team to get caught up in their own hype. If movie buff Coach Cable can keep his men focused, taking it one week at a time, then there is no reason why this team can’t sustain its recent success. It starts this Sunday with a classic rivalry renewed. The proof will be on the field and it will be revealed one play at a time.