PITTSBURGH -- Did you like what you saw from the Oakland Raiders against the Steelers last night?

"> PITTSBURGH -- Did you like what you saw from the Oakland Raiders against the Steelers last night?

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Did You Like What You Saw So Far ?

<p style="margin-top:5.0pt;margin-right:0in;margin-bottom:5.0pt; margin-left:0in;mso-pagination:none;mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace: none"><font face="Arial" size="2"><b>PITTSBURGH -- </b>Did you like what you saw from the Oakland Raiders against the Steelers last night?<o:p> </o:p> </font></p>

If not, then you might as well not watch another Steelers game all season long because it's apparent that's what we're going to see from the remaining 14 teams on Pittsburgh's schedule.

After watching New England throw 26 consecutive passes and not one single running play in the second quarter of last Monday's 30-14 defeat of the Steelers, the Raiders came out throwing against Pittsburgh Sunday night. Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon threw 41 times in the first half alone against the Steelers Sunday night, as the Raiders ran the ball just five times.

Gannon's first half numbers -- 29 completions in 41 attempts for 257 yards, one touchdown and one interception -- would look good for any quarterback in a given week.

Jerry Rice had 10 catches for 85 yards in the first two quarters. Only four guys in the NFL had more than that in an entire game Sunday. It's apparent that teams now feel the way to beat the Steelers and slow down their blitzing scheme is to throw, throw, and throw some more. And it's only going to get worse from here until the Steelers prove they can effectively stop it on a week-to-week basis.

"Teams are going to keep on using this patty cake stuff until we stop it," said defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen. "We have the people to do that. We're a veteran team, we're just not playing like it right now."

In that sense, the off week comes at a perfect time for the Steelers. They have two weeks off before they line up to play Cleveland at Heinz Field Sept. 29. They had better figure out a way to make teams pay for their pass-happy ways or it's going to be a long season -- both from a win-loss standpoint and from the time it takes them to play a game.

But short of going out and signing a couple of Pro Bowl cornerbacks, what can they do?

It's obvious opponents don't feel they can beat the Steelers with a conventional offense and team's No. 1 defensive ranking last season would seem to bear that out. But by using a no-huddle, spread offense, the Patriots and Raiders have forced the Steelers to play back on their heels and have dictated the pace of the game to them.

The Steelers were able to get to Gannon a little bit by blitzing Sunday night, but at what cost? Oakland caught them in a blitz in the first quarter and Charlie Garner burned them for a 34-yard touchdown run.

The Steelers made a big deal this off season about how they returned nearly everybody from last year's team. And that looked like a good thing until now. Opponents spent the entire off season figuring out ways to beat the Steelers defense. And with basically the same defensive players coming back, there were no unknown things to factor in. Now, the onus will be on the Steelers' coaching staff to adjust on the fly.

The clock is counting down until we see Tim Couch, or (gasp!) Kelly Holcomb throwing the ball successfully against the Steelers.

"I watched Cincinnati play Cleveland today and the Browns were spreading the field with five wide," said Steelers defensive coordinator Tim Lewis. "We can expect to see a lot of Dennis Northcutt and Kevin Johnson and Quincy Morgan."

They've got two weeks to do something about it.


--Dale Lolley




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