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Raiders' underrated D keeps Steelers down in win

For the first half of Sunday's 21-18 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the most dominant players on the field were Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Darren McFadden.

Pittsburgh's defense bit hard on a read-option fake to McFadden, allowing Pryor to race 93 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage -- good for the longest run by a quarterback in NFL history.

McFadden went on to add twoscores of his own as the Raiders tallied their second-highest first-half rushing total of the past 20 years.

The Steelers finally awoke from their slumber in the second half, allowing just one first down over the Raiders' final nine series.

As the Oakland offense went in the tank, the defense picked up the slack behind defensive end Lamarr Houston and linebacker Sio Moore. A confused Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times while rookie running back Le'Veon Bell was held to just 1.8 yards per carry.

The Steel Curtain has the name, but the Raiders have the game on defense this year.

Here's what else we learned in Sunday's game:

  1. Like Michael Vick a decade ago, Terrelle Pryor is getting by on sheer athleticism as a sandlot player. Pryor is especially tough to defend on third downs, when man coverage leaves a defense susceptible to scrambling. Another similarity to Vick is that Pryor's freelancing opens up running lanes for McFadden, who ran with more explosiveness in the first half than he did at any point in the past two years.
  1. Houston has played at a Pro Bowl level versus the pass and the run this season. Moore racked up two sacks and two quarterback hits Sunday after recording one sack and three hurries versus the Chiefs last week. He's quickly becoming one of the most impressive defensive rookies in the league.
  1. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham's two missed chip shots were the difference in a tight game. The two teams were within two seconds in time of possession, three total yards and three points. That is the kind of performance that can land a kicker on the hot seat.
  1. Is any unit in the league as injury-prone as the Steelers' offensive line? Starting guards David DeCastro and Ramon Foster were forced out with ankle and concussion injuries respectively. Top backup Guy Whimper then exited with a knee injury, leaving Cody Wallace and Kelvin Beachum as the guard while the embattled Mike Adams was pushed back into the lineup at left tackle. The MAS*H unit played a role in Roethlisberger's five sacks and Bell's inability to find room to run.

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