The sense of urgency the Steelers practiced with last week did not translate into anything pleasant from an aesthetics or rhythm standpoint Sunday at Heinz Field.
And left guard Chris Kemoeatu explained it in blunt terms after the Steelers didn’t score many style points but notched their most lopsided victory of the season.
“We knew what we had do to win this game, we had to give it everything we’ve got, whether it was eye gouging and spitting on each other,” Kemoeatu said following the Steelers’ 35-3 win against the Oakland Raiders. “A lot of that was going on this game, which is uncalled for but in the heat of battle stuff like that happens.
“We walked out here with a chip on our shoulder. We knew how physical it was going to be, and we weren’t going to take any B.S. from them. If they were going to try to push us around after the whistle, we were going to try to get the last push in. If we were exchanging words, we were going to get the last one in.”
The Steelers got the final one in by scoring 35 unanswered points, snapping the Raiders’ three-game winning streak and running their record to 7-3.
In dismantling the Raiders (5-5), the Steelers allayed fears that 2009, when they lost five consecutive games in the second half of the season, would play out again.
Though their methods suggested otherwise, the Steelers weren’t interested in turning the clock back to the 1970s when waged a bitter rivalry with the Raiders.
They were more keen on turning the page following their emasculation on national TV a week earlier. A 39-26 loss to the Patriots accounted for, as much as anything, the gritty approach that the Steelers took into yesterday’s game.
It showed in the way they harassed the Raiders’ quarterbacks — the Steelers sacked Jason Campbell and Seton-La Salle graduate Bruce Gradkowski six times. It also showed in Kemoeatu slugging Richard Seymour after the Raiders defensive end punched quarterback Ben Roethlisberger following the second of his three touchdown passes.
The Steelers’ mentality also was apparent in the drive that bridged the first and second quarters and was as impressive as any they have put together this season.
With the Steelers trailing 3-0, Roethlisberger marched the Steelers 85 yards in 14 plays and consumed a little more than eight minutes of the clock.
Rashard Mendenhall gained 34 of his 59 rushing yards on the drive. Roethlisberger completed 5 of 6 passes for 61 yards, including a 27-yarder to Mike Wallace that gave the Steelers their initial first down.
The Steelers also converted twice on third down, and they never trailed after Mendenhall crashed into the end zone for a 5-yard scoring run.
“Any time you can take the ball like that and drive it all the way down the field and score, that really messes up the defense,” Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said.
What was most significant about the drive in the eyes of the Steelers is where it ended.
“Forget that field goal crap,” right tackle Flozell Adams said.
Apparently, his teammates felt the same way.
The Steelers scored five touchdowns and did not have to call on new kicker Shaun Suisham other than for extra-point attempts.
They would have scored two more touchdowns had penalties not negated a 67-yard punt return by Antonio Brown and a pick six by cornerback Ike Taylor.
“The game got away from us, both teams,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “It was unfortunate, but I’m not going to let that dominate our thought. We made plays.”
Steelers vs. Raiders 11/21/10
The Steelers defeat the Oakland Raiders, 35-3, Sunday November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field.
• Mike Wallace continues to look like an emerging star. The speedy wideout went over 100 yards receiving Sunday for the third consecutive game and helped the Steelers beat the Raiders, 35-3. Wallace’s 52-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter effectively ended any chances of an Oakland rally. It also came off what Wallace called a ‘rub’ route in which he caught a short Ben Roethlisberger pass and turned it into the longest touchdown of the game. ‘I’m excited to see it on film,’ said Roethlisberger, who didn’t have a good angle when Wallace simply raced past several Raiders defenders en route to his eighth touchdown of the season. ‘I thought he just was going to get the first down. (Reserve quarterback) Charlie (Batch) said he put his foot in the ground and he was gone. It’d fun to play with him.’ Wallace has caught a touchdown pass in three consecutive games. He is the first Steelers player to accomplish that feat since Hines Ward did it in 2005.
• Starting defensive Brett Keisel missed his fourth game because of a hamstring injury. Keisel, who had been listed as questionable for the Raiders game, figures to have a good chance of playing in Buffalo next Sunday.
• Defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps) and reserve safety Will Allen (concussion) didn’t dress yesterday because of injuries. Joining them on the inactive list were offensive tackles Tony Hills and Chris Scott, cornerback Crezdon Butler, running back Jonathan Dwyer and Charlie Batch (third quarterback).
• The players were given today off after by coach Mike Tomlin after their victory over the Raiders constituted the largest one by either team in the series. The players are also off Tuesday and will have an abbreviated day Thursday because of Thanksgiving.