Steelers Team Report
Yahoo! Sports
4 hours, 26 minutes ago

Pittsburgh is back on track after crushing the Raiders 35-3, the most lopsided beating in the series’ 25-game history. The Steelers rediscovered their defense that was shredded the previous week by Tom Brady(notes), and their passing game was on the money again.

Doubts crept in after that shellacking put on them by the Patriots. Especially haunting was when it happened. A year ago, the Steelers opened at 6-2 and then lost five straight. They fell to 6-3 after the New England loss, and they were preparing to face Oakland, one of the five teams that beat them during that awful stretch last season.


It was no contest this time, and the Steelers head to Buffalo on Sunday feeling better about themselves, especially on defense.

“I liked the intensity. It was necessary,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “It was a nice bounce-back performance for us.”

“Last week was embarrassing,” linebacker LaMarr Woodley(notes) said. “New England kind of just walked up and down the field on us. So we wanted to come in here with a new attitude. We’re trying to get to the Super Bowl. That’s the goal at the end of the year. We knew what kind of team that Oakland was, and we wanted to go in here and shut down the run. Once we did that, we forced them to go to the air, got some turnovers, hit their quarterback a few times and came out on top.”

The Steelers set a team record with 163 yards on 14 penalties, and they’re starting to believe they are a target of the league and the officials.

“There’s nothing you can do about it—just continue to go out here and play football,” Woodley said. “Because if you start letting penalties affect the way we play, we’re not going to be the aggressive team that we’ve always been.”

Linebacker James Harrison(notes) disagreed with a roughing-the-passer call against him that negated a Steelers interception return for a touchdown by Ike Taylor(notes). He said the defense cannot worry about penalties.

“We are going to play together no matter what. And when there are a lot of penalties that are going against you, that’s going to bring you closer together and you are going to play harder.”

Steelers linebacker James Harrison wants the league to suspend Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour(notes) for sucker-punching Ben Roethlisberger(notes) after a touchdown pass.

“I don’t see why not. They’re trying to suspend guys for hits, when that’s within the whistles—some hits that guys can’t even stop from doing. It’s an adjustment that a receiver makes to what you are about to do to him, and you end up hitting helmet to helmet. You’re talking about suspending a guy for that? You tell me what the next step is for a guy who blatantly (hits the quarterback) outside the play. … It’s already thrown, and a guy is going to celebrate with his teammates and you punch him in the face.”

• The Steelers will tear the grass off Heinz Field this Sunday and replace it with new sod. The surface has come under scrutiny after it was criticized by kicker Jeff Reed(notes), the Patriots and Raiders, each team reportedly filing a complaint with the league. The field will first host the Pitt-West Virginia game Friday and then four high school championship games on Saturday before the new sod goes down.

• Linebacker LaMarr Woodley was fined $12,500 for a hit to the head of Tom Brady, although no penalty was called on the play. Woodley did draw a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer against Oakland.

Player Notes

• QB Ben Roethlisberger has more yards rushing this season than he did all of 2009, when he had 82 in 15 games. He has 85 in six games this season. His career high is 204 in 2005.

• RB Rashard Mendenhall(notes) rushed for 59 yards on Sunday vs. Oakland but “left 40 or 50 of his yards out there in the form of penalties,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “I thought he played well.”

• RB Isaac Redman(notes) continues to look good in the few opportunities he gets to run. He had 27 yards on five carries last season. He is currently second on the team with 146 yards on 34 carries.

• TE Matt Spaeth(notes) might not play this week. He has a concussion and will have tests to evaluate when he might be ready to return. Although No. 2 at tight end, he plays often and has caught all five passes thrown his way over the past four games for 49 yards.

• WR Mike Wallace(notes) has eight TDs, 759 yards and a 23-yard average. His six TD catches from Ben Roethlisberger of 40 yards or more is one away from tying the team single-season record.

• WR Hines Ward(notes) has been in a statistical slump. He has just 53 yards total receiving over the past four games after his 131-yard game in Miami Oct. 24. He missed three full quarters of the Nov. 14 game against New England with a concussion.

• S Will Allen, who has missed the past two games with a concussion, has passed all his tests, will return to practice and play Sunday. He plays primarily on special teams.

• SS Troy Polamalu(notes) will go through this week much as he did last week because coach Mike Tomlin said his Achilles tendon strain is the same. Polamalu did not practice last week until Friday, then played a full and pretty good game on Sunday.

• DE Brett Keisel(notes) will return to practice in full on Wednesday and is expected to start on the right side Sunday. Keisel has missed four of the past five games with a hamstring injury.

• WR Antonio Brown(notes), a rookie who returned punts Sunday, has a swollen knee and is not likely to suit up this Sunday. Brown dressed for the first time in six games last week.

• C Maurkice Pouncey(notes) left Sunday’s game with a bruised thigh but will return to practice and play this Sunday.

• LB James Farrior(notes) caught LB Lawrence Timmons(notes) for the team lead in tackles after trailing by as many as 20 last month. Each has 98 tackles—68 solo and 30 assists—and two sacks.

Report Card Vs . RAIDERS

Passing Offense: B-plus—Ben Roethlisberger completed only 18 passes, but they resulted in three touchdowns, 275 yards and a 127.8 passer rating. He didn’t throw an interception, and he was sacked twice, once for holding the ball way too long. With 29 attempts, he produced nearly 10 yards per attempt. Like the rest of his team, Roethlisberger made a big comeback from the previous week.

Rushing Offense: B—The Steelers piled up 162 yards and a 4.9-yard average per carry but did it in a very unconventional manner. Their horse, Rashard Mendenhall, ran for just 59 yards and a 2.6-yard average, although he did score on a five-yard run. But Roethlisberger ran for a career-high 55 yards on three carries, including a 16-yard TD, and wide receiver Mike Wallace added 19 yards on one end-around to boost the stats.

Pass Defense: A—As poorly as they looked against the Patriots, the Steelers turned it around against Jason Campbell(notes), who was 7-for-19 for 70 yards with four sacks before being yanked, and Bruce Gradkowski(notes), who was 13-for-24 for 98 yards and two more sacks. The two had a combined passer rating of 37.7 with two interceptions and a pick-six that was called back by a penalty.