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This Buster nod has been building over three weeks. This is now two weeks in a row the Raiders gave up over 30 points. It was 35 points to the Dolphins last week and 31 in this game. It was only due to the heroics of the offense and special teams that saved the woeful defensive play. The main concern here is the gameplan put in place for the defensive backs. Sure, the Raiders secondary is in shambles. But it doesn't matter who is out there if the corners are constantly playing ten yards off the receiver.
The Steelers were taking advantage of this big cushion. Several times they sent Heath Miller out to block as Roethlisberger threw to the receiver on a zero route. With the corner ten yards away as the nearest defender, all they needed to do was have Miller block them out of the play and pick of a sizable gain. It worked time and time again. The result was 15 catches by the Steelers starting wide outs.
The cushion they were giving makes it that much more odd that there were still such big gaps in the zone coverage. There was also again very little semblance of a pass rush. And then additionally, it becomes strange that Heath Miller was able to collect 8 catches of his own. Because either the linebackers are rushing or they are in coverage. And on Sunday, they appeared to be doing neither.
Every time I name him a Buster, I am surprised. I just can't understand it. He is supposed to be the best interior lineman this team has. But he is looking closer to the worst. There was one sack given up by the Raiders and it wasn't either of the tackles, it was Brisiel. It came on a third and 13 to end the Raiders third possession with a three and out. Then the very next offensive play for the Raiders, he gave up a run stuff. That series ended in a three and out as well. Later, on the Raiders first drive of the fourth quarter, he gave up a run stuff and had a false start with the team in second and goal at the one yard line. Those false starts at the goal line had plagued the Raiders for years. But it is usually a tackle doing it not the guy right next to the center.
Yeah, I know, he was forced into cornerback duties. And Matt Giordano was put in to replace him at free safety. That is true. But it is also true they didn't play well. Giordano started it off by giving up a 16-yard catch on the Steelers second touchdown drive. Huff gave up a 14-yard catch and then the receiver got in the soft zone between them for a 13-yard catch. Huff gave up the first catch on the drive that led to a Steelers field goal to head into halftime up 17-14. Then he started the third quarter by giving up a 12-yard catch on a drive that ended with Giordano pulling up with cramps and Mike Wallace wide open for a touchdown. The next drive ended when Huff gave up a 10-yard catch for a touchdown. Giordano gave up a 20-yard catch later on but was bailed out when Joselio Hanson came in and forced a fumble and the Raiders recovered it.
Yes, he played in this game. You can tell by his one assist in the stat line. So, yeah, he was pretty much neutralized. The one time I noticed him is when he was being blocked to make a nice big hole in the defensive line for Isaac Redman to run through on fourth and one on the Steelers final drive. The score was tied and it was crucial the Raiders make a stop. Thankfully, the next play, Matt Shaughnessy flushed Roethlisberger from the pocket where Richard Seymour sacked him. The linebackers finished off the Steelers after that.
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