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Onward Steelers; Three Keys to Victory in Oakland

Each week I try to lay out three important keys to a Steelers’ win whether here at steeleraddicts.com, or on the BlitzburghRadio podcast or on the radio with Trib-Live. In actuality, I could probably pick seven or eight things each week, but for the sake of time and my own sanity I go with three.

1. Don’t fall in love with the run. While the Oakland Raiders rank 15th in overall defense, they rank 29th in the league against the run. They are also coming off a game in which they were absolutely torched by Miami and Reggie Bush who had 172 of his own yards while the team went way over 200 total.

For the Steelers who are struggling with the run right now, this may look like the perfect opportunity to pound the ball and impose their will on a weak defense but I don’t see it that way. Yes, you may find more running room than in Denver or against the Jets, but this offense still runs through Ben Roethlisberger and the receiving corps. There is also no ‘Reggie Bush’ on this roster either. Todd Haley needs to use the pass to effectively establish the run which he did to a degree last week. Obviously, if the run is there early then stay with it in balance with the passing game.

2. Make an old friend feel like he’s back in Cincy. Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer was a long-time nemesis of the Steelers back when he played for Cincinnati and he had good and bad moments against the Steelers’ D. His career record is 4-8 against Pittsburgh and he has thrown 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His career passer rating his 76.7 versus the black ‘n gold.

While Palmer has had some successes against the Steelers, he has also thrown a number of picks in in crucial situations which the Steelers no doubt remember. While it looks like his former USC teammate Troy Polamalu will not be in the secondary to victimize him, the key to Palmer’s success will be pressure from the front seven. Last week, Dick LeBeau unveiled a new nickel package which created some confusion for Mark Sanchez. Let’s hope it does the same to Palmer.

3. Quit worrying about the ‘Black Hole.’ Several times already this week I’ve heard players like Ben Roethlisberger and Heath Miller comment about the environment in Oakland’s Alameda County Coliseum. “It’s loud, it’s ugly” and “the people are crazy” was the basic sentiment. Miller in fact mentioned after playing there in his second year that he called his wife and told her, “you’re never coming to a game here.”

Frankly, this concerns me a bit. If our guys are more concerned about the stadium and the fans and the environment than the task at hand then will they be 100% into the game? I’d like to believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are professional and above being ‘intimidated’ by a visiting crowd but comments like those above have me a tad unsure.

Anytime you go on the road you have to deal with crowd noise and your offensive line has to be in sync and able to communicate so there can’t be any excuses on Sunday.

Obviously the usual bits about protection and a strong special teams performance are crucial as well as they are every week, but hopefully this team can take care of the ball and get the job done before heading into their bye week.

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