Steelers Trounce Raiders -- Rivalry Revived

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Steelers Trounce Raiders -- Rivalry Revived

Nov. 21, 2010

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PITTSBURGH(AP) The Steelers returned to the Steel Curtain days of the 1970s. TheRaiders went back to the bad old days of the last seven years.There were punches and penalties, aSteelers defense that wouldn't stop and a Raiders offense that couldn'tget started. One week after getting embarrassed by the Patriots, a yearafter losing to Oakland, James Harrison and the Steelers tossed aroundthe Raiders like it was a playground pickup game while beating them35-3 on Sunday.Raiders defensive end Richard Seymourpunched Ben Roethlisberger in the jaw with an open hand, but theSteelers never flinched. They shrugged off a club-record 163 yards inpenalties, chased a bewildered quarterback Jason Campbell from the gameand punished the Raiders like the Steel Curtain teams of the '70s didso many opponents.The Steelers (7-3), still tied withBaltimore for the AFC North lead, were motivated by last week's 39-26home-field loss to New England and last year's 27-24 defeat to Oaklandthat all but ruined their season."It definitely was an old school,physical type game from back in the day," linebacker James Farriorsaid. "That's the type of game we wanted to make it, a physical game,and improve from our performance of last week."Harrison, the former AP NFL DefensivePlayer of the Year, did much of the damage with five tackles, twosacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He also took one of theSteelers' six personal foul penalties for slamming Campbell to the turfas the quarterback threw a pass."We didn't worry about the calls," Harrison said. "When you're getting a lot of penalties against you, it brings you together."Seymour, long one of the NFL's topdefensive players, displayed Oakland's frustration by strikingRoethlisberger in the face as the quarterback celebrated his TD pass toSanders late in the second quarter."I've never seen a quarterback get punched since I've been in this league," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.Several Raiders were certain Roethlisberger said something to Seymour."I'm not sure why he ran up on me," Seymour said."I heard that Big Ben said something," defensive lineman Tommy Kelly said. "I guess Big Rich didn't like it."What the Raiders (5-5) most dislikedwas getting shoved around like the Raiders teams that lost at least 11games each season from 2003-09. Oakland fell out of a tie for the AFCWest lead as Kansas City (6-4) beat Arizona 31-13.Oakland averaged 458 yards and 38.6points during its three-game winning streak, but had only 52 yards - 11rushing - as the Steelers opened a 21-3 halftime lead."We played against a really toughdefense today that got after us," said Campbell, who was 7 of 19 for 70yards and an interception. "Once we got behind the 8-ball and they gotall the momentum, they just kept bringing it and bringing it."Campbell never had a chance againsta Steelers defense that forced three turnovers, two that becametouchdowns, had six sacks and limited Darren McFadden to 14 yards on 10carries, 94 below his average. The Steelers have allowed only one100-yard rusher in 44 games.The Raiders were so ineffective, theSteelers had more penalty yards than they had offensive yards untildeep in the third quarter. The Steelers outgained them 431-182 asRoethlisberger threw touchdown passes of 52 yards to Mike Wallace, 22yards to Emmanuel Sanders and 16 yards to Isaac Redman and scrambled 16yards for a touchdown."I don't know how a team can overcome that many penalties, but we did it," Sanders said.Roethlisberger was 18 of 29 for 275yards and had 55 yards rushing. Wallace had his fifth 100-yardreceiving game with 116 yards, and Rashard Mendenhall's 15-yard TD runput Pittsburgh ahead to stay 7-3 in the second quarter.Bruce Gradkowski, who threw threetouchdown passes during the final 8 12 minutes of Oakland's stunningwin in Pittsburgh last season, replaced Campbell but also couldn't getanything going.While the penalties didn't affectPittsburgh's domination, the many calls inflamed their fans. TheHarrison penalty so upset the crowd of 64,987 that it booed for theensuing three plays, and fans began a derisive cheer aimed at refereeTony Corrente."Their defensive guys were hittingour offensive guys and there were no penalties," Harrison said. "Ibelieve if it happened the other way, there would have been a lot morepenalties called and maybe they would have kicked five or six of us outof game."Notes: Oakland had 55 yards inpenalties. ... Oakland's other defensive end, Trevor Scott, tore theACL in his left knee, usually a season-ending injury. ... Steelers CMaurkice Pouncey was pulled in the second half with a thigh injury. ...WR Hines Ward made three catches for 28 yards a week after a concussionsidelined him for the final three quarters against New England, endinghis streak of 186 consecutive games with a reception. ... Oakland stillhasn't won in Pittsburgh in successive seasons. ... Pittsburgh didn'tallow a point in the second half after giving up 29 to New England. ...Shaun Suisham, the Steelers' new kicker, didn't attempt a field goal.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.

 

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.