All good things must come to an end and today for the Oakland Raiders the good times came crashing down. Call it Louis Murphy’s Law, what could go wrong did. Absolutely nothing worked as Pittsburgh pounded Oakland by the final score of 35-3.
Mike Tomlin’s team did the Raiders like Tom Cable did Randy Hanson. Nothing subtle about this one as these two teams tangled in a physical contest. This was a straight up punch in the face.
For Oakland this game was lost in the trenches as the Steelers out Raidered the Raiders. Pittsburgh’s top ranked run defense stuffed the second best running game in the NFL and effectively took away any hopes of Cable getting a second consecutive win in the Steel City. In addition, the O-line was unable to slow the Pittsburgh pass rush as both Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski took turns running for their lives.
Yep, it’s already time to reopen the Campbell/Gradkowski debate. Campbell never got into a rhythm after an efficient opening drive. Gradkowski made some plays but also tossed a pick on a questionable throw.
Perhaps most stunning of all is that it would appear the league has found a new team to holdup as the poster child for penalization. Pittsburgh had more yards in penalties than the Raiders did of total offense at one point. Oakland did little to capitalize on all those free yards they were gifted. Despite the penchant for Pittsburgh penalties, Richard Seymour still managed to get thrown out of a game that looked more like a Raiders/Steelers clash of the 70’s.
With tempers running hot, Seymour’s ran the hottest.
Ben Roethlisberger called Seymour the NFL’s defensive player of the year before the game. He just might call Seymour the NFL’s heavyweight champ after the contest. No telling what Big Ben said to Seymour. But whatever he muttered must have been enough for it to be ‘go time’ as Seymour leveled Roethlisberger with a right that looked a little something like the shot Sergio Martinez landed on Paul Williams last night.
Losing your All-Pro defensive tackle in the first half is never a good thing and for Oakland it was the last thing they needed.
It was all downhill after that as the offensive stalled and the defense struggled.
Once again Cable will have to pick up the pieces and get this team to regroup. There is no shame in losing but losing like this is unacceptable. We knew this would be a struggle but this game looked more like a scrimmage.
Holding the top spot in the AFC West was short lived for the Raiders. Right about now it’s looking like getting into the playoffs will be an all or nothing proposition. Either the Raiders win their division or they spend an 8th straight post season watching from the couch.
This is just one game but it cannot become a trend. With major question marks still hovering over the quarterback and wide receiver positions, it’s time to return what has worked. Run the rock and dominate the line. Simple tasks that have yielded quality results but were nowhere to be found during a frustrating afternoon in Pittsburgh.