The Pittsburgh Steelers are riding high off of their two consecutive wins, and I cannot blame them. With momentum clearly swinging in their direction, the Steelers are slowly crawling back into the AFC postseason race. To continue their climb back into relevancy though, Pittsburgh must progressively “stack” wins and beat the teams they are “supposed” to beat during the coming weeks.
I’m sure that nobody would contend that the Oakland Raiders are as talented of a team as the Steelers are at the moment, but Pittsburgh must stay on high alert this weekend when they play in a stadium which has been a “house of horrors” for them on their last two trips (2006 and 2012) out West.
2006: Two Pick-Sixes Continue Downward Spiral
The only adjective I can find to describe what took place in 2006 between the Steelers and Raiders in Oakland is “pathetic.” Pittsburgh was 2-4 at that point and desperately needed a victory to stay in the AFC postseason hunt. In what should have been an easy victory over what proved to be the league’s “worst” (in terms of regular season record) team that year, the Steelers walked into one of the biggest “trap games” in recent memory.
Ben Roethlisberger, who was concussed the week before and probably should not have played that day, threw four interceptions, had two of them returned for touchdowns, and was sacked a total of five times! Probably the worst part about that game though was the fact that Pittsburgh’s defense absolutely stifled the Raiders’ offense which was led at that time by Andrew Walter.
In fact, the Steelers’ defense only surrendered six points and held Walter to only 51 passing yards on the afternoon! Oakland’s offense was held under 100 yards, but they still won the game because they emerged victorious in the turnover battle.
2012: 4th Quarter Collapse Snatches Defeat From the Jaws of Victory
The Steelers entered their game against the Raiders last year with a 1-1 record, and they looked primed to hit their stride after a victory over the New York Jets the week before in Pittsburgh.
As poorly as Roethlisberger played during his first outing in Oakland, he was downright awesome to the tune of 384 passing yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately for him, Pittsburgh’s defense absolutely crapped the bed in the fourth quarter against a Carson Palmer-led offense which “dinked and dunked” their way down the field for 13 points in the final frame.
Leading 31-21 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, an Antonio Brown fumble with the Steelers ahead 31-28 allowed the Raiders to tie the game on a Sebastian Janikowski field goal with 6:34 remaining. After Pittsburgh’s offense was stopped on their following possession, Palmer carved Dick LeBeau’s soft zone one final time to put his team in field goal range for the win.
Janikowski’s 43 yard field goal was good as time expired, and Pittsburgh’s defense was stunned in the fourth quarter. Of course, they would go on to lose plenty of games for their team during the coming weeks.
The Steelers have struggled in recent seasons when it has come to defeating teams and playing well in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. Pittsburgh is far and away a more talented team than Oakland is this fall, but their susceptibility to “trap games” in that stadium and in that area of the county worries me a great deal.
As long as this team stays focused, they should emerge victorious against a fellow 2-4 AFC foe. I just hope that they can keep these two aforementioned games in mind as motivation this weekend against a very beatable Raiders team.
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