Steelers vs. Raiders: Quarterback Play Will Be Critical for Both Teams to Win

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIOctober 27, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 20:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens on October 20, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be taking on the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and the two quarterbacks will be key to either team pulling out the victory.

Through the first seven weeks of the season, the Steelers are just 2-4, but they've won their last two games over the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens.  Meanwhile, the Raiders are 2-4 with wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers.  They're also coming off of a bye week after getting dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs in a 24-7 loss.

For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger has been the clear offensive leader leader for the past few seasons, but he's even more vital to the team's success in 2013.  As of now, Pittsburgh is one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL, putting up just 74.3 yards per game on the ground.

The numbers for Big Ben have been decent through his first six games.  He's thrown for 1,655 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions with a 90.7 passer rating. However, he's also had five fumbles, struggling to hold onto the football.

Things have looked better for Roethlisberger over the past two weeks.  He only threw for 424 yards and two touchdowns, but he also completed well over 70 percent of his passes and, more importantly, didn't throw a single interception.  

This means that when Big Ben doesn't throw an interception, the Steelers are undefeated, but they're also 0-4 when he does throw a pick.  If Roethlisberger can take care of the ball against a defense that's forced just three interceptions, his team should be in position to win.

However, the Raiders have a weapon of their own that's been quite surprising in Terrelle Pryor.  He's thrown for 1,061 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions in the five games he's played in, and while those aren't great numbers, they're certainly better than a lot of people were expecting.

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There's also a big difference in how productive Pryor is in wins versus losses.  When the Raiders have won, Pryor has had a passer rating of 105.5 with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.  In the four losses, he's had just a 74.2 passer rating, throwing five picks and just three touchdowns.

The real reason Pryor is so good is that he can also make plays with his legs.  This season, he's already run for 285 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.  He doesn't always run, but that's a good thing.  He knows when to tuck and run to convert for big first downs rather than just running whenever and missing some big potential throws.

Pryor will have a tough test against the Steelers, as they have a strong pass defense, allowing just 198 passing yards per game.  However, they've also struggled to force turnovers, grabbing just two interceptions this season.  It will also be the first time the Steelers face a dual-threat quarterback this season, so it will be interesting to see how the defense responds.

When these two QBs play well, their teams tend to win.  However, when they struggle, their teams struggle.  If one of these guys can step up and have a big game, then his team will likely walk away as the winner and move to 3-4 on the year.