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Other Week 14 Game Recaps

Week 14 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Oakland Raiders 24

What you need to know

Pittsburgh Steelers

If this Week 14 match-up were a television show it would be titled ‘Bad Footing’. There was no solid footing for any part of the Steelers against the Raiders. Ryan Switzer lost his footing on two returns and an easy touchdown reception in the end zone. Chris Boswell was on bad footing when he slipped and missed the game winning field goal. Finally, the Steelers coaching staff was on bad footing for thinking they could not only try to win a game against the Raiders with Joshua Dobbs, but also trying to bring Ben Roethlisberger back in at the end of the game would be enough to stop a three-game losing streak.

Oakland Raiders

-Despite nothing to play for, this Raiders team has not quit and has played surprisingly tough against great competition the last two weeks.

-Oakland used a two-man committee at running back with Doug Martin handling 64% of the running back touches and Jalen Richard taking the other 36%.

-It was another big week for Jared Cook, who is the clear top target in the passing attack.

-The Raiders offensive line was again problematic, allowing four sacks and drawing a number of flags.

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Ben Roethlisberger, 41 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 29 - 282 - 2 TD / 0 INT
Roethlisberger was very sharp throughout the entire same. He was distributing the ball well and keeping everyone engaged early. In fact, the superlatives on Roethlisberger's are lengthy and far outweigh the negatives. The connection between Roethlisberger and both his top wide receivers (Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster) was on full display tonight, especially when Roethlisberger was out of the game. Roethlisberger highlight throw of the night came on the Steelers second possession of the game. Roethlisberger had good protection and showed good feel when he escaped the pocket to his right. Roethlisberger delivered a well-placed ball to Jesse James. Near the end of the second quarter Roethlisberger took a big hit from a rushing defensive lineman up the middle. Roethlisberger stayed on the field and completed the first half of the game but was held out until there were three minutes left in the game and Josh Dobbs had proven ineffective. Roethlisberger re-entered the game and led the offense quickly down the field and threw a touchdown to JuJu Smith-Schuster. The pass was dangerous but was perfectly placed by Roethlisberger.

QB Joshua Dobbs, 19 offensive snaps, Pass: 4 - 9 - 24 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 15 - 0
Called on to start the third quarter for an injured Roethlisberger, Dobbs was inaccurate and did not give his pass-catchers an opportunity to win after the catch. The best example was on a pass to James Washington. Washington was thrown the ball high and it was easily broken up by the Oakland defender. If Dobbs would have thrown the ball into the body, then the defender would not have been able to make a play on the football without committing a penalty.

RB Jaylen Samuels, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 28 - 0, Rec: 7 - 64 - 0 (7 targets)
With the loss of James Conner, Samuels was named the starting running back and received most of the running back touches in the game. Samuels attacked the Raiders defense differently depending on how he touched the ball. As a rusher, Samuels showed a smooth-running style and lacked vision between the tackles. As a receiver, Samuels was navigating traffic well and displayed better explosion through arm-tackles.

RB Stevan Ridley, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 4 - 1
Ridley was inserted into the lineup when the Steelers were at the goal line. Ridley displayed nifty feet avoiding defenders in traffic for his touchdown.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 130 - 2 (12 targets)
Smith-Schuster led the Steelers in targets and yardage, providing valuable as a threat in the slot in crucial situations. The chemistry Smith-Schuster is developing with Roethlisberger is like that of Antonio Brown. Smith-Schuster's had two highlight catches on the day. His first came on a back-shoulder timing reception from Ben Roethlisberger displaying exceptional timing. JuJu's second highlight catch was for a touchdown in the back of the end zone. Smith-Schuster was relatively open and the ball was placed well above his head. Fortunately, Smith-Schuster tipped the ball to himself and was able to secure the catch. The ruling on the field was originally called incomplete, but was overturned for a touchdown.In the closing seconds, Smith-Schuster took a toss from James Washington and had big yards after the catch to bring the Steelers within field goal range. Smith-Schuster does most of his damage in the slot and by being physical with his defenders after the catch.

WR Antonio Brown, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 35 - 0 (7 targets)
After last week's explosion against the Chargers, Brown was quiet against the Raiders. Even with a tepid box score, Brown's speed was being respected when Browns defender was playing almost 10-yards off coverage. The defender began to backpedal, but Brown ran a simple hitch route for a first down. Brown also had a crucial catch on the final drive for the Steelers which led to a touchdown.

TE Vance McDonald, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (4 targets)
McDonald continues to be as efficient a target as you'll find, securing 4 of his 4 targets today, and securing 73% of his targets over the season. McDonald did not find the end zone this week, but his impact by taking additional coverage off the top two wide receivers and exploiting the extra coverage those two wide receivers draw. During the second quarter the Raiders had a miscommunication and left McDonald uncovered in the middle of the field.

Oakland Raiders

QB Derek Carr, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 34 - 322 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0
Carr had a strong day, showing off both his touch and ability to throw fastballs when needed. He was able to loft it in over trail coverage and in front of the safety on long completions to Marcell Ateman and Jared Cook. Carr had to use his big arm to squeeze it into tight spots a few times, including a key third-down completion to Jordy Nelson fired into a tiny opening. Carr had to work behind a poor offensive line, which drew a number of penalties that put the offense behind the chains. He also took four sacks, a couple of which were unavoidable. Carr did deserve the blame for one sack when he held the ball far too long. Aside from taking the sack, he really only made one big mistake in the game. Carr had the ball slip out of his hand as he was attempting a pass and it was ruled a fumble. The ball came out as he wound up to throw despite no defender being near him. It cost the Raiders three points. Carr led a pair of long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to lead a come-from-behind victory. He capped one off with a 3-yard touchdown to backup tight end Lee Smith. Smith came wide open off of play action. The game-winning, 6-yard touchdown pass was to the other backup tight end, Derek Carrier. It came on 4th-and-goal in the final thirty seconds of the game. Carrier ran a great route and was wide open for an easy throw and catch.

RB Doug Martin, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 32 - 1
Martin was listed as questionable with a knee injury but was able to play, wearing a brace on his left knee. His longest gain came on the first snap of the game, a physical run right up the middle for nine yards. With the Raiders facing 1st-and-goal from the three-yard line on the opening drive, Martin got three straight carries. He dodged a defender in the hole on first down and picked up a yard and a half. He dove low and tried to stretch for the end zone but came up inches short on second down. On third down, he leaped over the top of the pile for the 1-yard touchdown. He opened the second drive with another powerful 9-yard run up the gut. After picking up 26 yards and a touchdown in the opening minutes, Martin did next to nothing the rest of the way. He gained just six total yards over the final 50 minutes. Martin had a fourth goal-line carry late in the game but was dropped for a short loss.

RB Jalen Richard, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 24 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)
Unlike most recent weeks, the running backs were an afterthought in the passing game. Richard was the only back targeted and he had just one. He did see his second-most carries of the season with eight, though. Most came on the final two drives of the game with the Raiders playing catch up. On his first touch, he made a nice cut in the hole and bounced it for an eight-yard pickup. Richard picked up a key 4th-and-1 late. He darted through the line for a 3-yard gain and was nearly able to stay on his feet and take it in for an 18-yard touchdown. It was ruled his knee touched and the Raiders didn’t have any more challenges available.

WR Jordy Nelson, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 48 - 0 (7 targets)
Nelson made a key 3rd down grab on a slant route despite having Joe Haden draped all over him. He slid low to make the catch just shy of the goal line. While Nelson hasn’t been able to generate much separation, he still shows excellent hands and has been a reliable target on short passes.

WR Seth Roberts, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 76 - 0 (7 targets)
Roberts tied for most targets amongst the wide receivers with seven. He took a wide receiver screen for a 9-yard gain on the opening drive, getting knocked out of bounds three yards shy of the end zone.

WR Marcell Ateman, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 45 - 0 (4 targets)
Ateman wasn’t targeted at all the first three quarters. He wasn’t on the same page with Carr on a third-down incompletion early in the fourth quarter and Carr let him know about it on the sideline. Carr went right back to the rookie early on the next drive, though. Ateman was matched up on a linebacker and was able to haul in an over the shoulder grab for 28 yards. He made a diving grab across the middle with a defender hanging on him for an 8-yard gain. All three of Ateman’s catches came on the Raiders two late touchdown drives.

TE Jared Cook, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 116 - 0 (10 targets)
offense. Cook’s longest gain of the day came on the second offensive snap. He ran a go route down the sideline and made a nice over the shoulder grab, holding on despite a hit from the safety for a 30-yard gain. The very next play, Cook hauled in a 19-yard gain on a slant route to get Oakland into the red zone. The Raiders were often able to get Cook lined one-on-one with Steelers safety Morgan Burnett and Cook was able to dominate the matchup. He was able to get huge separation on some of his slant and out routes.

TE Derek Carrier, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 29 - 1 (2 targets)
Carrier made a pair of key catches. He went low to make a diving 23-yard catch down the seam to get the Raiders into the red zone. Carrier scored the game-winning, 6-yard touchdown in the final seconds. He lined up out wide left, staggered behind Jordy Nelson. Nelson cut inside and drew two defenders. Carrier faked the out route and then pivoted back to the inside and generated huge separation making for an easy pitch and catch from Carr.

TE Lee Smith, 14 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 1 (1 targets)
The big blocking tight end hauled in a 3-yard touchdown catch off of play action. He faked like he was blocking and was able to slip through traffic to lose his defender.