Oakland Raiders @ Steelers: Five Keys to Victory

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Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) prepares to throw a pass against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Jets 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Quick & Short Passing

The Pittsburgh defense has established itself as a real pass rush menace over the past few games. Using the blitz to great effect, they have harried and harassed opposing quarterbacks as of late, which has forced interceptions and masked some of the deficiencies in the Steeler secondary. The Steelers have sacked opposing quarterbacks 22 times through eight games, with eleven different players logging sacks (rookie Bud Dupree leads the team with four), demonstrating the way in which the Steelers are able to get pressure using multiple personnel and varieties of blitz to confuse opposing offenses. 

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  • The Raiders offense has done a stellar job this season using a combination of scheme and effective play to protect Derek Carr. Carr has only been sacked eight times all year (Matt McGloin was sacked twice in his extensive action in week one, as well), and has often gone long stretches of game without even hitting the turf. While much of the credit should go to Mike Tice’s offensive line unit, especially Donald Penn, Rodney Hudson and Austin Howard, and much credit should go to Derek Carr for his quick decision making and release, a lot of credit has to go to Bill Musgrave and his offensive scheme.

    One way Musgrave’s scheme has been helpful is by the heavy utilization of quick throws and screen passes, which allows Carr to get the ball out of his hands quickly. The screen game also tends to put the brakes on aggressive edge rushers and blitzing linebackers, since an aggressive rush can take them completely out of such a play.

    If used in conjunction with some well-timed draw plays, the short passing game will be Carr’s best friend in facing the Steeler pass rush. If the Raiders can have success with this as well as the run game in the early going, it could open things up for Carr to have some open shots down the field later on in the game.