The Oakland Raiders suffered their worst loss of the season on Sunday falling to the Steelers in Pittsburgh 35-3. This game was supposed to be a test for the Raiders to show whether or not they are ready to take that "next step" towards becoming an elite team. Obviously the score reflects an elite team against a mediocre team but the numbers don't tell the whole story.
The Raiders were without a couple of key players against the Steelers. Starting CB Nnamdi Asomugha was a game time decision against the Steelers but was scratched at the last minute. Starting WR Darrius Heyward Bey aggravated his hamstring during the bye week and was unable to go on Sunday.
Both of these men play key roles for the offense and defense. Some of you may think the absence of DHB isn't big but if you know football you know DHB's presence on the field is very valuable.
Darius Heyward Bey has elite speed and at 6'2" 220 lbs he is a big WR. He may not have the best hands on the team but never the less he is a threat out there that has to be respected by the defense. Heyward Bey is rarely covered by one player. His man usually has safety help over the top. He doesn't put up big numbers but that is because the defense takes him away from the QB by double teaming him.
Heyward Bey takes two defenders with him every time he goes deep. He might have opened things up for Miller, Ford, and Murphy. Polamalu wouldn't have been able to play near the line of scrimmage as much as he did. He tackled McFadden for a five yard loss on one play.
We all know Nnamdi's value to the team. He locks down one side when he is on the field. He would have neutralized Mike Wallace on Sunday. With him on the field John Marshall would have been able to send the blitz more often. We would have seen Tyvonn Branch and Michael Huff bringing the heat. Chris Johnson went down early and rookie Jeremy Ware had to play more than anticipated.
Nnamdi is also our smartest player out there. He would have read a lot of things pre snap that would have helped stop the Steelers. Maybe the Seymour right cross doesn't happen if Nnamdi was out there. Who knows? I just know that we needed him against Mike Wallace and Hines Ward. We would have been able to do a lot more things on defense with the best CB in the NFL on the field for us.
I hate to make excuses but we sure could have used a speedy threat on offense and the NFL's best CB on defense. We shut down Rashard Mendenhall but Mike Wallace got loose for some big plays on us through the air. Nnamdi would have made it a lot tougher for Roethlisberger to find his new favorite target.