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Pittsburgh Steelers

Stadium: Heinz Field | Coach: Mike Tomlin
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense19th86.4 (26th)251.1 (10th)
Defense13th115.6 (18th)221.6 (10th)

Steelers report: Strategy and personnel

The Sports Xchange
 
Strategy and personnel · Inside slant · Notes, quotes
 

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Hines Ward, who needs only 76 yards for his sixth 1,000-yard season, likely will not play Thursday night because of a hamstring injury.

--DE Travis Kirschke should play Thursday after missing his fourth game over the past five with a calf injury.

--CB William Gay left the game Sunday with a concussion, and it's doubtful he will play Thursday night.

--SS Troy Polamalu will miss his fourth consecutive game Thursday night with a sprained knee.

--QB Charlie Batch will be outfitted with a soft cast on his broken left wrist, and the Steelers will try to get him ready to play soon.

REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS

PASSING OFFENSE
C-plus -- Ben Roethlisberger posted a nice passer rating of 123.3, collecting two touchdown tosses and completing 18 of 24 for 278 yards. But he failed in the red zone on the first three tries, coming away with only a field goal. He threw his only interception into the end zone on a first down at Oakland's 16. That was not a good pass defense, either.

RUSHING OFFENSE
D -- Against the NFL's 31st-ranked run defense, the Steelers ran 27 times for 132 yards and one touchdown, but they got almost half of that on one 60-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall. The rest produced 72 yards on 26 carries, not nearly good enough against that kind of defense at home.

PASS DEFENSE
F -- Bruce Gradkowski looked like Ken Stabler, and the Oakland passing offense looked like days of old. Gradkowski was 20 of 33 for 308 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 121.8 passer rating. Rookie Louis Murphy caught four passes for 128 yards, including two touchdowns. The Steelers sacked Gradkowski three times but dropped several possible interceptions, one with 40 seconds left that would have ended Oakland's comeback.

RUSH DEFENSE
B-minus -- The Raiders ran 28 times for 109 yards and no touchdowns. They ran it just enough to make the play-action effective and keep the Steelers guessing. It worked big-time when Gradkowski, on third-and-1 at the Steelers 25, faked a handoff and threw deep to Murphy for a 75-yard touchdown as the safeties bit on the play.

SPECIAL TEAMS
B -- Stefan Logan returned the opening kickoff 83 yards and averaged 45 yards on three returns. However, he fumbled one punt (recovered by the Steelers), fair-caught one he should not have and did not fair-catch one he should have. Daniel Sepulveda punted three times, knocking two inside the 20 and averaging 43.3 yards net. The Raiders had no notable returns.

COACHING
F -- The defending Super Bowl champs entered on a three-game losing streak yet were still in the middle of the playoff hunt, but they showed up flat for a home game against the Raiders. That falls to coaching. This team took the Raiders for granted and paid for it. There seems to be no plan once their offense gets into the red zone and no stopping any offense in the fourth quarter. Plus, Mike Tomlin promised to "unleash hell," and that never occurred.

Copyright (C) 2009 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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