The Oakland Raiders aren't getting any smarter or better.
One week after being labeled the dumbest team in America by its head coach, Bill Callahan, the Oakland Raiders laid a giant sized egg in a 27-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
The loss drops the Raiders, who host Baltimore next Sunday, to 3-10. Pittsburgh outgained the Raiders in total yardage 399-161. Jerome Bettis rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown. Bettis also brought his career yardage total to 12,166 and passed Buffalo's Thurman Thomas for ninth on the all-time list. He needs five yards to surpass former Steeler great Franco Harris. Bettis, however, will not pass Harris as Pittsburgh's all-time leading rusher because 3,091 of his yards came as a Los Angeles/St. Louis Ram.
In addition, Pittsburgh punt returner Antwaan Randle El ran circles around the Raiders. Randle El set up three scores with catches of 24 and 15 yards and a 51-yard punt return, and had a 26-yard punt return and an 18-yard run.
Things started in promising fashion for Oakland.
The Raiders struck first with 3:23 left in the opening quarter. Running back Tyrone Wheatley scored on a 22-yard run with tight O.J. Santiago, guard Brad Badger and wide receiver Tim Brown delivering key blocks along the way. Sebastian Janikowski's extra point put Oakland on top 7-0.
The good news, however, stopped there. The Raiders offense was dreadful the rest of the day. The Steelers sacked quarterback Rick Mirer four times and forced him into an ineffective day in which he went 10-of-25 for 68 yards and two interceptions while playing on a sprained left ankle.
Pittsburgh answered on its next drive by advancing to the Oakland 26-yard line before settling for a 44-yard Jeff Reed field goal on the first play of the second quarter.
The Steelers went ahead 10-7 at the 5:26 mark of the second quarter when Jerome Bettis scored on an 11-yard touchdown off left tackle. Antwaan Randle El's 26-yard punt return to the Pittsburgh 31 helped set up that six-play, 69-yard drive.
Pittsburgh's defense set up its next score when Dewayne Washington intercepted a Rick Mirer pass and returned it to the Raiders 20. Three plays later, Tommy Maddox connected with Plaxico Burress for a 14-yard touchdown in the right corner of the end zone over Oakland cornerback Terrance Shaw.
Dan Kreider added a touchdown run in the second half while Reed also kicked a field goal to punctuate the scoring – and another chapter in a terrible Raider season.
RAIDER NOTES—Adam Treu started at center in place of Barret Robbins. Frank Middleton started at guard in place of Mo Collins. Anthony Dorsett and Derrick Gibson started as the safety tandem. … Oakland quarterback Rick Mirer threw his first interception in 104 attempts. … DT Dana Stubblefield started for the first times in five games after being sidelined with an ankle injury.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org