Quick Take: Raiders-Steelers

In Brief

» Last meeting: The Raiders had two interception returns for touchdowns to beat the Steelers, 20-13, on Oct. 29, 2006.
» Streaks: In the 1970s, the Steelers and Raiders had perhaps the league's best rivalry, but in recent years, Pittsburgh has taken control with five wins in the last seven meetings. Overall, Oakland has a slim 12-11 edge, including the playoffs.
» Last week: Third-string QB Dennis Dixon got the start for the Steelers and his pivotal interception in overtime doomed them to a 20-17 loss at Baltimore. ... The Raiders were unable to put up much of a fight in a 24-7 loss to the Cowboys.

Keep your eye on ...Rashard Mendenhall's statistical output: Oakland has the league's second-worst run defense, and Mendenhall has the ability to take advantage of the porous unit. He has rushed for 739 yards since taking over the starting job in Week 4, and he figures to receive plenty of carries given the uncertain status of QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Mike Tomlin's inspirational stand: Pittsburgh's coach was defiant after his team's loss to the Ravens, saying "We will not go gently. We are going to unleash hell here in December. Because we have to." It remains to be seen if the team will back up Tomlin's words, but given his track record, it seems likely the Steelers will come to play the rest of the season.

Darren McFadden's role: The Raiders may need to pull out some tricks to knock off the Steelers, and McFadden might be the player most equipped to orchestrate such gadget plays. He has not been used often in the Wildcat, but he has experience running it from his college days at Arkansas. He could be the key to catching an aggressive Pittsburgh rush defense off guard.

Did you know?

Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski attended Seton-La Salle High School in Pittsburgh. ... Oakland rookie wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey had his first-career touchdown last week. ... Pittsburgh has the league's best run defense. ... If the playoffs started today, both the Steelers and Raiders would be on the outside looking in. Get an updated look at the postseason picture.

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