Of course, when you're not run blocking particularly well, some of that nastiness has to be found in different ways. In Sunday's game, that equated to plenty of pushing, shoving and, yes, even a punch or two.
The Steelers were an angry football team coming off a 39-26 whipping by the New England Patriots last weekend at Heinz Field
Angry enough to hold the Raiders – who had gained over 500 total yards of offense in two of their previous three games – to 182.
Angry enough to roll up 431 yards with an offense that literally went toe-to-toe with the Raiders on several occasions.
Angry enough to draw 14 penalties for a team-record 163 yards.
That last one was probably a little too angry, but that was the state in which the Steelers found themselves.
"After last week's game, we came in here and knew we had to make a statement and that's what we did," said rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, who seems to be the guy the rest of the offensive line rallies around.
It may not have been the kind of statement they wanted to make. The result, a 35-3 whipping of the Raiders, was what the Steelers desired.
But the penalties, particularly on offense, were the kind that will get you beat by a good team – which the Raiders obviously are not despite the 5-4 record with which they entered Sunday's game.
All told, the Steelers had five holding penalties called against them – four of which were accepted - two personal fouls, one of which was offsetting, an illegal formation penalty, and one for clipping.
The personal fouls are one thing. When you're coming to the aid of your quarterback after he's been delivered a cheap shot like the one Richard Seymour delivered on Ben Roethlisberger, that's understandable. We'll give Chris Kemoeatu a pass.
And another personal foul on Trai Essex for nailing a Raiders player standing around a pile can also be understood from a team trying to create that physical image on its offensive line.
But five penalties for holding, one for clipping and one for an illegal formation are about six too many.
The Steelers were highly charged after last week's whipping. They wanted to prove they are still a contender in the AFC. They wanted to show that they weren't going to go into a nose dive after a 6-2 start as they did in 2009.
But while emotion is certainly a very good thing to play with, you can't get emotional to the point where you lose your composure.
"That game got away from us, both teams," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "It was unfortunate, but I'm not going to let that dominate our thought.
"It was a shame." The penalties, particularly on offense, marred what was otherwise an outstanding performance by the Steelers.
The final score was 35-3, but had Steelers cut their offensive penalties in half, they easily could have won by 50. Oakland's offense was that overwhelmed by what the Steelers were doing defensively.
"They came out trying to enforce their toughness on us," said Oakland defensive lineman Tommy Kelly.
"We knew it had to be physical, with us coming off a loss last week. We knew we had to get after it," said Kemoeatu. "We knew we had to do whatever it took to win this game. We knew it was going to get physical. A lot of people exchanged words, hits, blows, after-the-whistle stuff."
The Steelers wanted to be the bullies instead of the guys giving up their lunch money.
"It was better us pushing them than them pushing us," said Pouncey.
© After seeing Steelers linebacker James Harrison fined $100,000 for hits this season, I can't wait to see what the fine is for Seymour for punching Roethlisberger in the face – after the play had ended.
© Pouncey and Kemoeatu both left the game. Pouncey suffered a thigh bruise and Kemoeatu was suffering from leg cramps.
Pouncey said there's no way he's not playing next week at Buffalo and likely would have re-entered Sunday's game had the score been closer.
© Ramon Foster started in place of Essex at right guard and that could end up being an ongoing rotation determined by play. But the Steelers are better off with Foster at guard and Essex coming off the bench as the swing guy.
Without Essex in the starting lineup, he can get more work at tackle, which could lead to his eventual replacement of Jonathan Scott at left tackle.
© Tomlin said rookie Emmanuel Sanders hasn't moved up the depth chart at all, but there were several instances against the Raiders where Sanders was on the field on third downs and Antwaan Randle El was not.
Sanders had two receptions for 35 yards and caught a touchdown pass for the second consecutive game.
Fellow rookie Antonio Brown was also active and caught a 21-yard pass. Brown also had a punt return for a touchdown called back by a penalty.
It's nice to work Randle El into the offense since he gives opponents somebody they have watch for gadget plays. But the rookies are this team's future and they might as well play.
(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)