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Raiders week 9 Ballers & Busters: Part two

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The second part of the week nine Ballers & Buster which delivers the bad news.

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DJ Hayden

There is no official word yet whether the rumors were true that Hayden was treated at a local hospital for third degree burns after this game. We are also looking into Antonio Brown as the arson suspect, though the evidence is pretty strong based on what we saw at Heinz Field on Sunday that he several times lit up Hayden, torched him, and burnt him to a crisp. Here is the evidence we have:

The first attempt came on third down on the Steelers' second series. Brown left Hayden in a vapor trail, but Roethlisberger missed the mark long and Hayden walked away unscathed. Things started to get cooking on the next drive with Hayden giving up two catches for a total of 21 yards to help set up a Steelers field goal.

The next drive, Brown blew past Hayden again, this time Roethlisberger didn't miss and it was good for a 59-yard bomb. A few plays later, Hayden gave up a 9-yard catch to put the Steelers at the 3-yard line and they scored the touchdown on the next play. With the added 2-point conversion, they took an 11-7 lead.

After playing over a quarter of good football, the fourth quarter gave way to more monstrous acts upon Hayden at the hands of Steelers receivers. The first drive of the quarter, Hayden gave up a 9-yard catch and three plays later was shaken out of his shoes to whiff on a tackle at the line and give up a 15-yard touchdown to Martavis Bryant. It gave the Steelers the lead back at 28-21.

After another Steelers touchdown off a turnover and response by the Raiders, Hayden gave up a 15-yard catch followed by missing a tackle on a 22-yard run. Luckily, the Raiders defense was still able to stop the drive, forcing a punt. On the punt return, Hayden didn't hold his block to give up the tackle on the return man at the 7-yard-line. Then, of course, the final act on which Hayden was unaware he was being led into a screen of his own teammate to allow Brown to catch a short pass and take it 57 yards to seal the game on a field goal.

Get well soon, TJ Carrie.

Ken Norton Jr

The last time the Raiders defense looked this confused was the season opener against the Bengals. That game was his first as a defensive coordinator, so you kinda understand things wouldn't go smoothly. But eight  weeks in, you think they're putting things together and they put a performance like that on the field.

Jack Del Rio was saying a lot of it had to do with execution. That's true. But a lot had to do with alignment as well. There were far too many times in this game there was a wide open man. Most times it was a tight end or a running back on a screen.

The first instance came on the Steelers' first drive. On third and 4 a dump to a wide open running back went for 33 yards. When the Steelers scored their first touchdown, the 2-point conversion went to a wide open DeAngelo Williams in the right flat. Too easy. On the Steeler's second touchdown drive, the Raiders were completely fooled on an end around that went for 16 yards.

Having running back wide open on screens was something we all grew tired of seeing under Jason Tarver's time as DC in Oakland. And this tight end is just getting out of hand.

Not helping things is Norton's sarcastic response last week when asked (again) about the defense facing a good tight end. "Oh no, not another tight end!" he said with a laugh. As if the concern is unwarranted and the problem isn't very real. Two-time Pro Bowler Heath Miller was wide open for a 22-yard catch on the Steelers' second drive. The Steelers' final touchdown was flat out gift wrapped to rookie tight end Jesse James for his first career touchdown. Wide open in the end zone. I don't find that to be all that funny. Perhaps Norton and I just have different taste in comedy.

Taiwan Jones

Four times in this game Taiwan Jones had a ball pop out that he had secured. And he only touched the ball seven times. The first time he touched the ball, he fumbled. Luckily Lee Smith was there to kick it out of bounds to keep the Steelers from recovering it. It was ruled down by the officials, but had the Steelers recovered, they would have challenged the play and it would have been overturned.

The next time Jones touched the ball, he was tackled for a one-yard loss. He was handed the ball on the next play and fumbled it out of bounds.

Since Jones had shown his unreliability on offense, his touches were relegated to kick returns. And to start the fourth quarter, he showed he can fumble there too. This was the worst of all. The Steelers had just re-taken the lead at 28-21 and on the ensuing kick return, Taiwan fumbled the ball inside the 10 and the Steelers recovered it at the 6-yard line. They were in the endzone in two plays. That put the Raiders in a two TD deficit late in the game. But seriously, 4 fumbles on 7 touches? That's nuts.

Stacy McGee, Denico Autry

They both played nearly half the game and between the two of them, they didn't have two tackles to rub together. They were swallowed up by the Steelers offensive line. McGee was pushed around on several run plays up the middle, while Autry got one pressure but it was negated by a pass interference penalty. McGee didn't stay in his gap which allowed DeAngelo Williams a big hole to run for the Steelers' first touchdown. In the fourth quarter McGee overpursued, allowing Williams to run right by him for 22 yards.

Curtis Lofton

Lofton had four tackles in this game. Only one of them was inside five yards. The third quarter ended with a 53-yard run that Lofton was in position to stop and took a bad angle, allowing DeAngelo Williams to get the edge and find open field. And on the Steelers' final touchdown, Lofton chose to double team Heath Miller and leave Jesse James wide open for the touchdown. It's getting more difficult to find Lofton's niche on this team.

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