Steelers at Raiders gameday walkthrough

This is the 17th meeting between the Raiders and Steelers, a series that began in 1970 and is tied 11-11 overall, including 8-8 in the regular season and 3-3 in the post-season.

The Steelers won the last meeting in 2004 in Pittsburgh, 24-21, and have won five of the past six games between the teams, back to 1994. Their post-season meetings in the 1970s were epics; they met either in the playoffs (two) or the AFC championship game (three) five straight times from 1972 through 1976, including the famous Immaculate Reception game in 1972 in Three Rivers Stadium.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/29/06
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

2006 RANKINGS: Steelers: offense 9th (15th rush, 9th pass); defense 12th (9th rush, 19th pass). Raiders: offense 31st (10th rush, 31st pass); defense 5th (26th rush, 1st pass)

PREDICTION: Steelers 27-16

KEYS TO THE GAME:

The Raiders won their first game of the season last week despite turning the ball over five times. That combination won't work against Pittsburgh, which has its back against the wall in the AFC and should come out motivated.

The Steelers will focus on stopping the Raiders' ground game early on and then abusing Oakland's vulnerable offensive line. The Raiders must keep the game close and stick with the run, even if RB LaMont Jordan's stiff back causes him problems and Justin Fargas sees significant action.

Pittsburgh expects QB Ben Roethlisberger to play following last Sunday's concussion, and he'll face a quickly improving Oakland defense. Look for the Steelers to come out running behind RB Willie Parker and only attack the Raiders' secondary if the ground game stalls.

Oakland did an excellent job of containing Cardinals WR Anquan Bolin last weekend and will attempt to recreate that success against Steelers WR Hines Ward. FAST FACTS: Steelers: Ward's 15 career 100-yard receiving games are the third-most in franchise history. ... Coach Bill Cowher is 5-1 against Oakland. Raiders: Are allowing just 140.5 passing yards per game. ... Have allowed only 10 touchdowns in 25 opponents' trips inside the 20-yard line.

Steelers:

--LB Joey Porter, who has not played in the past two games, was upgraded on Thursday to probable after going through his second full practice. He had a hamstring injury.

--LB Clark Haggans will try to practice Friday, but if he cannot, Arnold Harrison would replace him at left outside linebacker Sunday. Haggans has an ankle injury.

--WR Cedrick Wilson (groin) is still listed as questionable, but he went through a full practice Thursday.

--NT Casey Hampton said Thursday that he will play Sunday. However, he has not practiced, and coach Bill Cowher said Hampton was being optimistic and that the player remains questionable.

--RG Chris Kemoeatu, a second-year player, is pushing veteran Kendall Simmons for the starting job. Coach Bill Cowher said he may move Kemoeatu up based on merit.

Raiders:

--RB LaMont Jordan missed practice for the second consecutive day with a sore back and is listed as questionable.

--DT Warren Sapp was added to the injury report Thursday with a hip/back injury. He did not practice and is listed as questionable.

--DT Anttaj Hawthorne would join Tommy Kelly and Terdell Sands as the third tackle in the Raiders rotation if Warren Sapp cannot play.

--WR Randy Moss has been the favorite target of Oakland quarterbacks, with 54 passes headed his way out of 162. With 24 receptions, there have been more incompletions headed his way than completions.

--RB Zack Crockett, who averaged a touchdown every 7.3 carries from 1999-2003 as the Raiders' short-yardage back, does not have a touchdown in his last 53 attempts dating back to Oct. 23, 2005.

--CB Fabian Washington makes the 16th start of his career Sunday against Pittsburgh and is still awaiting his first interception.


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