The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a banged-up defense when they travel to Oakland to face the Raiders today, but it may not matter. Oakland, led by first-year coach Dennis Allen, is off to another ugly start. The Raiders were gashed for 263 rushing yards in a 35-13 loss to the rebuilding Miami Dolphins last week after dropping their season opener to the San Diego Chargers 22-14.
The Raiders were inexplicably bad against a below-average Dolphins’ team last week.
“I believe it’s a matter of time for us to get going,” Allen said.
It’s clear that a regime change hasn’t helped fix the leaky rushing defense. After finishing 27th against the run last season (136.1 yards per game), Oakland is currently 28th (147.5). Reggie Bush tore into them for 172 yards and two touchdowns last week.
Adding to their woes is the fact that linebacker Rolando McClain may be forced to sit out due to a concussion.
What’s worse, Darren McFadden (2.1 yards per carry) has struggled mightily on the other side of the ball and the Raiders are averaging a league-worst 2.0 yards per carry.
“I just feel like we have to get going,” McFadden said. “You hit one or two runs here, a 3-yard run there, and eventually it’s going to start popping.”
McFadden is tied for the most catches (15) in the AFC, but that’s a by-product of Carson Palmer (670 yards, two TDs, one INT) throwing the second-most passes (94) in the league, most of which are dump-offs.
The Steelers, on the other hand, avoided their first 0-2 start in a decade Sunday with an impressive 27-10 win over the New York Jets despite missing their two defensive stars.
Ben Roethlisberger, who’s having great success in Todd Haley’s new offense, completed a pass to 10 different receivers.
This will be the first trip to Oakland since 2006 for Pittsburgh, which rolled to a 35-3 win in the most recent meeting in 2010.