Raiders, Steelers Set to Revive 'That '70s Show'

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Raiders, Steelers Set to Revive 'That '70s Show'

Nov. 18, 2010RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOSTEELERS PAGE GAME PREVIEW

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Suddenly, it's looking like the 1970s again for what once was the NFL's nastiest and most compelling rivalry, one so inflamed it once spilled over from the football field to a federal courtroom.

Welcome back, Raiders vs. Steelers. The NFL and its millions of fans have missed you.

Two storied franchises that have disliked each other since they first met 40 years ago face each other Sunday in what might be the most meaningful game between them since 1984. That season, the last remnants of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl teams of the 1970s upset the Raiders during the final weekend of the regular season to make the playoffs, and the Steelers went on to reach the AFC championship game.

It's a rivalry that was kindled by the most miraculous game-winning play in NFL history, the Immaculate Reception in 1972. With Hall of Famers such as Al Davis, Chuck Noll and John Madden, Mean Joe Greene and Franco Harris, Gene Upshaw and Art Shell all playing key roles, the teams faced each other in the playoffs every season from 1972-76.

The games were so fearsomely physical, there were frequent allegations of crossing-the-line play and, even, a lawsuit after Noll accused the Raiders' George Atkinson of being part of the league's "criminal element."

For much of the '70s, it was the NFL's rivalry beyond all others. Now there are hints it could be percolating again.

The Raiders scored three touchdowns in the final 8 12 minutes to beat the Steelers 27-23 in Pittsburgh last season, a significant upset that eventually put the reigning Super Bowl winners out of the playoffs. Of the Steelers' five consecutive late-season losses, this one might have hurt the most.

"We went home and kept wondering, What if? What if?'" wide receiver Hines Ward said.

The Raiders (5-4), with a dozen-plus first-round draft picks, now look to be one of the league's on-the-rise teams after winning three in a row and four of five. The Steelers (6-3), trying for a third Super Bowl in six seasons, looked like an elite team until Tom Brady shredded their defense for 350 yards passing in New England's 39-26 rout last weekend.

Oakland, tied for the AFC West lead with Kansas City, knows it can legitimize its status as a playoff contender if it can overcome the cross-country trip and beat the Steelers on their home field for a second successive season. The Steelers, tied for the AFC North lead with Baltimore, want to show that last week was an anomaly.

"I hope everybody's (ticked) off," Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. "The way we played last week was unacceptable. It's something we can't have if we want to be a championship team. I haven't gotten my butt whipped like that in a long time."

That loss cost longtime kicker Jeff Reed his job. He was cut after missing a 26-yard field goal attempt, with former Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham replacing him.

Raiders coach Tom Cable would love to extend the Steelers' miseries for another week.

"It's very dear to me to get this place back to respectability and back to being a team that everybody talks about like the Steelers, the Patriots, like Baltimore, like the teams that have been good here for a while," Cable said. "There was a time when you mentioned those teams, and you would mention Oakland that way."

Ward is too young to remember the height of Raiders-Steelers rivalry, but he's heard enough to know what it meant.

"Our organization, theirs, (are) probably the marquee organizations throughout history, especially on the AFC side," said Ward, who expects to play despite getting a concussion against New England. "Some of the great plays in history have come in this game. It's always great to play the Oakland Raiders, it's a lot of rich tradition."

Bruce Gradkowski's 11-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy with 9 seconds remaining last season might not go down among those great plays, but it was enough to beat Pittsburgh. Gradkowski now backs up Jason Campbell, the former Redskins quarterback who has thrown for 743 yards, five touchdowns and one interception during Oakland's three-game winning streak.

Campbell might need to consistently pick on Pittsburgh's suspect cornerbacks to sustain any offense, especially if Darren McFadden - whose 108.1 yards rushing average leads the NFL - can't get going. Pittsburgh's defense has allowed only one 100-yard rusher in 43 games and is giving up a league-low 63.2 yards per game.

"It's a great buzz for us right now," McFadden said. "We've won three games in a row so it has been great for confidence. Guys approach the game with a 'we are supposed to win' attitude."

Oakland's dominant defensive front four of Lamarr Houston, Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Trevor Scott hopes to disrupt quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as successfully as New England did when it surged through an injury-thinned offensive line to sack him five times. Roethlisberger, who leads the NFL in passing yardage since returning from his four-game suspension, threw for many of his 387 yards after the Patriots opened a 23-3 lead.

"Teams start to separate themselves in November and December," Seymour said. "We want to be one of those elite teams."

Elite isn't a word that's been heard around the Raiders for a long time. They might hear it again if, for the first time in franchise history, they can win in Pittsburgh in successive seasons.

"Last year is last year," linebacker Sam Williams said. "This is a new team, different players everywhere on the field. This is a new team that's focused and not even close to the team we had last year."

Oakland, Alameda County to vote on possible Raiders stadium term sheet next week

Oakland, Alameda County to vote on possible Raiders stadium term sheet next week

The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Supervisors will soon hold a public hearing and vote on a term sheet for a stadium proposal designed to keep the Raiders in Oakland, the City of Oakland announced on Friday afternoon.

These actions will occur on Dec. 13, as local authorities attempt to expedite a stadium plan that will prevent the Raiders from being approved to relocate to the Las Vegas market.

Oakland and Alameda County have paired with Fortress Investment Group to create a stadium funding plan that does not include taxpayer dollars. The public will contribute to infrastructure improvements, but stadium construction will come from private sources.

The private investment group is fronted by former NFL players Ronnie Lott and Rodney Peete.

Details of this stadium framework were released by the city of Oakland on Friday afternoon. 

The term sheet calls for 105 acres of Coliseum site land for a 55,000-seat football stadium and 7,000 parking spaces, with another 15 acres reserved for an Athletics ballpark. If all goes according to plan, the term sheet set a target date for the stadium to be ready by the 2021-22 season. The plan also accounts for  mixed use areas on the site that could be used for ancillary development. 

The financial framework calls $200 million in public funds, generated through private and public bonds, would be used for infrastructure improvements. The Coliseum site land was valued at $150 million, and would be transferred to the Lott group. It is uncertain how the public will recoup that land value. 

The Lott Group would invest $400 million dollars, and the Raiders and the NFL would put in $500 million combined, with $200 million from the league's stadium loan program. The Raiders could also raise funds from the sale of personal seat lisences, a common funding tool used in new stadiums throughout the league. 

The stadium project plus infrastructure improvements is estimated at $1.3 billion. The Lott Group would be responsible for financial overruns. 

City and county votes are the next step in creating a plan enticing enough to the NFL that it would pump the brakes on allowing the Raiders to move to Las Vegas.

That is Raiders owner Mark Davis’ stated desire. He has not negotiated with local public officials in some time, pouring focus into a Las Vegas stadium plan that has already received $750 million in public subsidy to construct if the Raiders are given the green light to move.

There are several complications associated with this deal, most notably that Davis wants no part in it. The NFL is reportedly intrigued by Oakland’s market potential, and generally prefers that teams remain in their home markets.

Oakland and Alameda County will vote on whether to continue working on this term sheet and present it to the NFL. The league meets on Wednesday to discuss relocation, and East Bay officials want to show they have a viable alternative to keep the Raiders in Oakland. 

 

Raiders snap count: Nate Allen plays every defensive down

Raiders snap count: Nate Allen plays every defensive down

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele spent Thursday morning in a Kansas City hospital with an undisclosed illness, and was unfit to play that night against Kansas City.

That was a big blow to the Silver and Black, who played a pivotal game against the Chiefs without their tone-setter up front.

The Raiders have depth along the offensive line, giving position coach Mike Tice options to fill Osemele’s spot. He took an unconventional route, having rookie Vadal Alexander take most of the snaps for Osemele.

Alexander, who has played tackle as a professional but spent most of his collegiate career at guard, took 66 snaps at left guard. That information comes from the official NFL game book.

Jon Feliciano, typically the first guard off the bench, rotated series with Alexander early on. That apparently stopped as the game progressed, with Feliciano taking just nine offensive snaps.

Alexander allowed four quarterback pressures including a hit on Derek Carr.

Safety Nate Allen played all 55 defensive snaps at strong safety for Karl Joseph, who missed Thursday’s game with a toe injury.

Denico Autry and Dan Williams also saw more action with Darius Latham and Stacy McGee out with ankle injuries.

The Raiders played out of the shotgun and pistol formations to protect Carr’s ailing right pinky, which generally kept a third receiver on the field. Seth Roberts played 71 snaps on Thursday, and didn’t do much with them. He had just two catches for 12 yards on nine targets. He also had two drops.

Let’s take a look at the entire Raiders snap count:

OFFENSE
75 – OL Donald Penn, OL Austin Howard, OL Gabe Jackson, QB Derek Carr, OL Rodney Hudson
74 – WR Amari Cooper
71 – WR Seth Roberts
66 – OL Vadal Aleander
63 – WR Michael Crabtree
52 – RB Latavius Murray
44 – TE Clive Walford
23 – TE Mychal Rivera
18 – RB Jalen Richard
12 – WR Andre Holmes
9 – OL Jon Feliciano, OL Menelik Watson
7 – FB Jamize Olawale
2 – RB DeAndre Washington

DEFENSE
55 – S Nate Allen, LB Perry Riley, CB Sean Smith, S Reggie Nelson, LB Malcolm Smith, CB David Amerson
52 – DE Khalil Mack
48 – DL Denico Autry, LB Bruce Irvin
25 – DT Dan WIlliams
23 – CB TJ Carrie
15 – DT Justin Ellis
10 – DE James Cowser
6 – DL Branden Jackson

SPECIAL TEAMS
25 – Daren Bates
21 – Keith McGIll
19 – Andre Holmes, Jamize Olawale, Brenden Trawick, Cory James
18 – Taiwan Jones
15 – Nate Allen
13 – James Cowser, Marquette King, Jon Condo
11 – TJ Carrie
10 – Branden Jackson
8 – Sebastian Janikowski, Dexter McDonald
6 – Khalil Mack, Denico Autry, Bruce Irvin, Dan Williams, Justin Ellis, Tyrell Adams
5 – Jalen Richard
4 – Donald Penn, Austin Howard, Gabe Jackson, Vadal Alexander, Clive Walford, Mychal Rivera, Menelik Watson, DeAndre Washington
NOTE: Snap counts taken from official NFL game book