If nothing else, one former USC Trojan wiped the sweat from his brow with relief after it was announced that his former collegiate peer would be absent from Sunday's contest. After all, Carson Palmer has been frequently victimized by his college roommate, Troy Polamalu.
From running over Palmer en route to the end zone to diving—arms extended—over the pylon for six points in 2010, Troy's great play against Carson has marked their professional meetings in the past.
Yet, few unions were more downtrodden for Palmer than that between Kimo von Oelhoffen and the quarterback's own knee in the 2005-06 Wild Card playoffs. Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati, 31-17, on the path to a Super Bowl XL victory.
"I hate the Steelers more than I hate UCLA. Yeah, it's because I'm jealous and want what they have. It's how everybody in our locker room feels."
Palmer's interview with Sports Illustrated in the aftermath of his injury stuck with Steelers fans, who wanted nothing more than to put him in his place.
Fast-forwarding to the present, it's difficult to face off against Carson without recalling how he fell flat on his face in his mission to unseat the Steelers. Pittsburgh actually went on to knock Palmer's Bengals from the 2006-07 playoff picture in Week 17 of the following year, Bill Cowher's final game as head coach.
Additionally, Palmer is 4-9 against the Black and Gold.
Now, Polamalu's old college buddy wears Silver and Black. However, life back in California hasn't been so sunny for Carson. The Steelers will look to continue this trend.
Absent a solid run game in the first two weeks with Darren McFadden, the passer has been put on center stage late in games, where his lackluster aerial attack has been exposed.
Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore have struggled to produce, and the Steelers secondary will look to suffocate Oakland targets much as they did last week against the Jets. The Raiders' most productive target has been Brandon Myers, who has 11 receptions for 151 yards.
Even absent Polamalu, the man-coverage skills of Keenan Lewis, Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark, and even Cortez Allen blossomed in the latter stages of Week 2's contest, and all indications would seem to lean towards the Steelers' defensive backfield having the edge again this week.
Yet, despite his heftily declining status from elite NFL passer to struggling misfit, Carson Palmer will need to be pressured to be ineffective. It's no secret that the key to disrupting the timing of an NFL passer is to congest his backfield. Carson Palmer, like any other quarterback, can frustrate a defense if his jersey stays clean.
So far, the Steelers defense has had more success bringing pressure from the middle of the line. Last week, Larry Foote had one of his better efforts in recent memory, and he will want to duplicate that success in order to keep Palmer rattled.
Likewise, Lamarr Woodley also got a sack last week, and his presence on the outside is still formidable, even with the absence of his anchoring peer, James Harrison.