FINAL GRADE: F
As the game progressed, it was painfully obvious that the Raiders offensive adjustments were not answered by the Steelers defense, adjustments that fall back onto Dick LeBeau. The unit, which started the game promisingly minus a long run by McFadden, fell apart.
Here's hoping a healthy lineup takes the field in Week 5. As it stands, the prideful unit was unable to get even a modicum of a pass rush. Notably, Casey Hampton is clearly not the force he once was, and one has to wonder if Steve McLendon would be a more viable option for his strength up the middle.
4th Qtr.: F---- (that's four minuses!)
The Raiders fifth straight third down conversion to start the second half preceded another Carson Palmer touchdown pass, drawing the Raiders to within three points of the Black and Gold.
Next, Antonio Brown fumbled.
Truly, the rest of the team did the defense no favors, as the unit had to take the field after a long drive without a breath. Nevertheless, at any time over the course of Oakland's final five drives the Steelers defense could have made a key play.
It never came, with the lone exception of a great individual tackle by Lawrence Timmons' to force the Raiders into a game-tying field goal.
Tied in the final two minutes, Carson Palmer and crew picked apart Pittsburgh again. Another third down conversion on the first series of downs gave fans in the Steel City an ominous feeling, and Dick LeBeau's unit failed to come up with any answers.
After an entire half of being unable to get off the field on third down, being unable to pressure the passer, being unable to prevent receivers from getting open beneath the coverage, being unable….
Well, after a half of simply being unable in all phases, a fifth consecutive scoring drive by Oakland sealed a 34-31 loss.
3rd Qtr.- F
In the first two quarters, I was lenient on the defense, both for its response to a long McFadden touchdown and the bad circumstances that led to Oakland’s second score.
However, after surrendering another short-field touchdown after halftime, my grading scale has to account for the unit’s inability to answer the adversity. In other words, they deserve a harsher ranking in the third quarter.
After a great kickoff return, Oakland’s offense took advantage with a 48-yard touchdown march. The drive included two third down conversions, including on 3rd-and-9. McFadden converted a short distance effort on a powerful run as well.
The defense a chance to get off the field but failed, as Palmer found open receivers with alarming frequency. To end the quarter, Palmer- with time to throw on every dropback- completed four straight passes for 52 yards.
The Raiders started the fourth quarter with possession deep in Pittsburgh territory.
2nd Qtr.- B-
The defense did everything that they could to keep the Steelers ahead. They opened the quarter by forcing an incompletion from Carson Palmer, ending a Raiders’ drive on third down.
The unit clamped down on McFadden, whose three yard loss on a third down tackle by Ike Taylor served as a microcosm of his quarter.
However, a fumble by Jonathan Dwyer gave Oakland’s offense a short field. Though it appeared the team made a key stop on third down, Carson Palmer and the offense forced a huge mental error by the defense, which was drawn offsides.
The Raiders capitalized on the resulting 3rd-and-goal with a touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey.
Once again, the defense put up a near-A effort, but a huge mistake negated some of their swagger.
1st Qtr.- B-
Considering Darren McFadden's 64-yard touchdown run, in which the linemen got blown off the ball via zone blocking and allowed a huge hole, it seems surprising that the unit finished with a B-rating.
However, the defense forced a turnover (Palmer interception), got pressure (including a sack by Brett Keisel), and responded to the long touchdown by forcing a three-and-out by the Raiders offense.
After his long run, McFadden was stuffed for minimal gains on both a pass reception and run attempt.