By. Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND — Fresh off their bye week, the Oakland Raiders will look to get back on the winning track when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at O.co Coliseum. The game is sold out and will be seen locally on CBS affiliate, KPIX Ch. 5. Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m.
Oakland (2-4), leads the all-time series, 11-9, and hold an 8-5 edge in home games over the Steelers. The Silver and Black have not lost to the Steelers at O.co Coliseum since 1995.
In last year’s meeting in Oakland, the Raiders dropped the Steelers 34-31 behind a 43-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski in the final seconds of a tough battle. Running back Darren McFadden had a great day, carrying the ball 18 times for 113 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run. Oakland will need a healthy McFadden against the sixth ranked Steelers defense.
Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor spent the bye week working with quarterbacks coach, Tom House refining his mechanics. Pryor worked with House during this past offseason, and House has worked with quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Pittsburgh (2-4), started the season 0-4, but are coming along after winning their last two games, including a 19-16 victory over their AFC North foe, the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
It’s no secret that the Steelers will only go as far as the right arm of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can take them.
Roethlisberger is coming into Sunday’s game completing 66-percent of his passes for 1,655 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Owner of two Super Bowl rings, Roethlisberger is a top-five quarterback in the NFL and the Raiders are going to have their hands full with him, but if Oakland is going to have any success, it will be on the defensive front.
Defensive ends Lamarr Houston (team leader with three sacks) and Jason Hunter (two sacks), will have their chances to get their hands on Roethlisberger, especially with the anchor of the offensive line, center Maurkice Pouncy, on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
Roethlisberger has been sacked 21 times this season (third behind New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (25 times), and Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (26 times)). Oakland has been getting after the quarterback this season, sacking the opposing quarterback 16 times through six games.
In order for Oakland to have a chance at moving to 3-4, they will need to apply pressure on Roethlisberger and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver will need to be creative in concocting blitzes if Oakland is going to have chances at throwing Roethlisberger’s timing off to his wide receivers, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
Sprinkle in a few timely plays by Pryor and the offense, Oakland has a legitimate shot at winning Sunday.