FSM Essential Recap: Week 2 – Raiders vs Steelers

Franchise Sports Media

 

Week 2 of the NFL season would see an old rivalry of two of the greatest franchises in sports history. The Raiders and Steelers did battle on the grid iron as Las Vegas traveled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a throwback style contest.

 

Raiders vs Steelers
PhotoCredit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After their thrilling victory on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens, the Raiders would meet another AFC North foe as they traveled to Pittsburgh to take on their long-time rival the Steelers.

Each team entered 1-0 with both squads looking to show they aren’t to be overlooked for the 2021 NFL season. The Raiders have struggled on the road in eastern time zones, while the Steelers were set for their home opener.

Right away both teams showed that this would be a defensive battle, as they both got pressure on the quarterbacks and didn’t give up many yards to the opposing offenses. The Raiders’ new-look defense was aggressive, rallying to the ball carrier and making sound tackles. Both would limit the other team’s rushing attack as the Raiders were working with their new line.

The Raiders also had backup running back Kenyan Drake starting after Josh Jacobs was ruled out for the game due to injury. The Steelers once again struggled to get their first-round pick, Najee Harris, going on the ground. Given the struggles both teams had running the ball, they threw for a combined 77 pass attempts to 39 combined rush plays.

 

It was clear for the second week in a row that this is a new defense we are seeing from the Silver and Black.

 

Photo Credit: Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports

Once again, the Raiders improved defense showed that it has to be taken seriously as Maxx Crosby was at it again terrorizing Ben Rothlisberger. While not registering a sack, Crosby stayed near Roethlisberger throughout the game, make a muddy pocket for the future Hall of Famer. New addition Solomon Thomas had himself a game by getting two sacks and defensive back Trayvon Mullen registered 7 tackles and an interception.

The Raiders came to show they can be just as physical as their opponents and that the woes of their past efforts of playing in eastern time zones were a thing of the past. The Silver and Black held up their end, at least on the defensive side of the ball, in the first half.

Standouts in the first half were Johnathan Abrams, who found himself constantly around the ball making plays and leading the charge with his physical style. Abrams is now playing under more control and being a bigger contributor in his new hybrid role of safety/linebacker. Casey Hayward stood out in coverage as he batted several passes away that in years past would’ve been back-breaking plays the Raiders would give up.

Crosby as mentioned, Yannick Ngakoue, who was questionable coming in, suited up and like Crosby across from him, didn’t register a sack, but his pressure allowed others on the defensive front to make plays. Recently signed KJ Wright also stood out amongst the linebacker group.

But despite the efforts made by the defense, it was the offense that was struggling early as solid drives that looked promising ended with field goals giving the team a 9-7 lead at the midway point.

 

Adjustments were needed in order to secure a victory on the road and the Raiders turned to their leader under center for answers.

 

Raiders vs Steelers
Photo Credit: Luke Straub/USA TODAY SPORTS

Derek Carr would carve up the Steelers defense all game to the tune of 28-37, 382 yards, and 2 touchdowns. One of the touchdowns was a 61-yard bomb to Henry Ruggs, who showed off the blazing speed that made him the first-round pick last year for the team.

But it was more than just the big throw, Carr spread the ball around to different receivers taking what the defense gave him. Everyone saw that star tight end Darren Waller, who got 19 looks on Monday, was Carr’s favorite target, so the Steelers made it a point to double and at times triple-team the All-Pro. So instead of force-feeding his star player, Carr diced up the secondary with throws to Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, and his other two tight ends Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier. The Raiders tight ends not named Waller saw a combined 4 targets with Moreau receiving one for a TD.

Despite having his new-look offensive line in front of him, even after rookie first-rounder Alex Leatherwood went down due to injury, Carr held it together and kept the team focused on the task. Carr showed tremendous toughness when after his TD throw to Moreau when he got his ankle rolled up from behind and was on the ground for a minute. Shaking it off and refusing to sit for even one series, Carr showed why he’s the true leader of this team. Already through two games on the season, Carr has racked up 817 yards with 4 TDs which is a franchise record in a 2 game span.

While not perfect, the Raiders are off to their second straight year of being 2-0. They are showing that this Silver and Black squad might resemble ones of its past glory days and find themselves in the win column more often than not. With energy, effort, focus, and discipline, the defense is holding its own and not allowing teams to just do as they will. The offense, while still doing a patchwork job on the offensive line, is moving up and down the field showcasing a possible MVP candidate in Carr.

The overall vibe of the team that has been given so far to start the season is that Just Win Baby isn’t just a tag line, but a way of life and the motivating factor behind this team looking to find itself back in postseason play.

 

Next week the Raiders return home host the Miami Dolphins. Las Vegas is looking to continue their winning ways and try to imoprove to 3-0. While there’s excitement now, there’s still a long season ahead for the Silver and Black.

 

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

 

Follow Kalani on Twitter @klua11

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