Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 23, 2012
Running game bursts, then silent; Raiders trail 17-14 at half

OAKLAND -- The Raiders have gained 105 yards on offense in the first half against the Steelers -- and 64 of those yards came on one play -- yet they trail the Steelers by a field goal at halftime, 17-14. Darren McFadden broke free for the big gain on his first carry from scrimmage, a play that quarterback Carson Palmer appeared to check to after drawing some movement from the Steelers defensive line with a hard snap count.

The Raiders have been saying all week they felt they just needed to pop a big run or two to jump-start their zone-blocking running game. But that hasn't really been the case so far. McFadden has four yards on his five carries since, and the lack of a consistent running game has contributed to the Raiders going 0-for-4 on third downs.

The Raiders turned a fumble recovery at the Steelers' 30 -- the first turnover they've forced this season -- into a touchdown just before halftime with Palmer finding Darrius Heyward-Bey in the corner of the end zone. Palmer is 6-of-10 for 37 yards. His first pass attempt was intercepted after his intended receiver, Denarius Moore, slipped on the infield dirt here at Coliseum on the Raiders' first play of the game.

Time of possession is skewed way toward the Steelers, who have held the ball for 21 minutes, 36 seconds despite almost no running game (12 carries, 28 yards). Ben Roethlisberger has already thrown 31 passes, completing 22 for 207 yards and a pair of 4-yard touchdown strikes to tight end Heath Miller. Roethlisberger has completed passes to 10 different receivers.

Early on Roethlisberger went hard after Michael Huff, the Raiders' safety who started at cornerback with both season-opening starters out. The Steelers have had success a couple of times with quick passes to the receiver on Huff's side and Huff giving a big cushion. Huff left the game briefly on the Steelers' first drive after he appeared to hurt his leg running into a Pittsburgh receiver near the line of scrimmage, but returned after just one play.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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