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Keys to stopping Pittsburgh & my introduction to Raider Nation

On offense, the Steelers want to get Big Ben outside of the pocket and look for Mike Wallace deep.  They will tell you that they want to establish the run and control the clock with Mendenhall, but really, when they do run, they're just setting up the deep ball.  Last week against New England, Pittsburgh's offense became instantly frustrated once Hines Ward had to leave the game.  The Pats loaded up Wallace's side and limited his explosive potential.  Ward takes care of the tough yards and takes double coverage away from Wallace.  Since Ward will play on Sunday, the Raiders will have to live with him converting on the underneath stuff.  It sounds funny, but allowing the Steelers to move the ball down the field on sustained drives is not always a bad thing; getting fried on "explosive plays" will sink your battleship right away.  They are not a good red-zone offense, and they have a new kicker because the old one wasn't getting it done this year.  Hines Field is a difficult place to kick anyway, so bending but not breaking is the key for the Raiders.

Another thing that is effective against Ben is something Mike Zimmer calls the "pulse rush".  Since Ben likes moving away from pressure and improvising his way to big plays, and is ridiculously hard to bring down, having defensive linemen run at him then stop, then run at him and stop, and so on, sounds silly but confuses him just enough to keep him in the pocket.  And when Big Ben becomes a drop-back pocket passer, he quickly loses his charm. 

As for the Steeler defense, well, it's pretty awesome.  The key is for the quarterback (in this case Jason Campbell) knowing the looks Dick LaBeau shows because he's tricky, checking off to backs (McFadden) when the primary receiver is covered, getting the ball out quickly, and baiting Polomalu into the wrong reads.  Troy is a gambler; sometimes he chooses incorrectly, but when he gets it right, he's lethal.  I know that Oakland runs the ball well, and they shouldn't completely abandon that strategy, but Pittsburgh is no joke against the run so the onus is on Campbell.  For the Raiders to win this game he must play better than okay. 

I am a Bengals fan--born and raised--but our owner is strangling the community with a near-criminal tax scenario where the city pays for the stadium of a largely non-competitive team; I can't really take it anymore.  He won't hire a GM or team president (he acts as both), employs only one scout and is sure to let Marvin Lewis walk after this year because Marv wants more player-personnel power and an indoor practice facility.  Thing is, I love the NFL, and can't abandon my Sundays from it altogether.  I have always been a Raider admirer.  Yes, Al isn't always on his medication and in his twilight years has made a string of dubious decisions, but at least the guy wants to win--he just goes about it in curious ways sometimes.  As bandwagon as it seems now that they are back into first place, I am throwing my hat into the Black Hole for better or worse.  I am not completely abandoning the men in stripes, but supporting the Raiders will help me keep the fire alive.  Be prepared to read more as I am a football-writing fool (mojokong.blogspot.com).  Also, please help me understand your team better when you feel the urge.  Thanks and go Raiders!

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