Steelers vs Raiders: Ben Roethlisberger versus Raiders secondary
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has faced some very good defensive fronts and secondaries this season. Through it all, Roethlisberger has been sacked just 17 times, is averaging 328 yards per game, and has tossed 26 touchdown passes. Roethlisberger should have an easier time of it in Oakland this Sunday.
The Raiders defense has just 10 sacks, nine interceptions, and gives up 243 passing yards per game. Maurice Hurst, Roethlisberger’s biggest threat as far as sacks go, leads the Raiders with four. Their best cornerback is arguably second-year man Gareon Conley, who is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. Opposite Conley is Raashan Melvin who has one pick on the year. In total, four of the Raiders nine interceptions have come from their corners. Their safeties have tallied the other five.
Roethlisberger should be able to exploit the Raiders secondary nicely with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Melvin will likely be guarding Smith-Schuster while Conley will try to hang with Brown. Both matchups are favorable for the Steelers and should have Roethlisberger licking his chops. Conley’s aggressive approach leaves him vulnerable to the double move and the big play, but Roethlisberger still needs to be patient.
Roethlisberger will use Vance McDonald to occupy the safeties and keep them away from his receivers. The more one-on-one matchups he can create for Brown and Smith-Schuster, the more opportunities there are for big plays. Besides that, it’s always fun to watch McDitka truck some poor defender.
The Black Hole hasn’t been kind to the Steelers or Roethlisberger. The Steelers haven’t won there since 1995, and Roethlisberger never has. With that being said, this matchup is tailor-made for Big Ben, who’s always up for airing it out.
Down to the wire
Roethlisberger’s motivation to get a win is twofold in this game. First, he’s never won in Oakland and it’s the last chance he’ll ever have. Secondly, he wants to get the Steelers back on track for their postseason run. Roethlisberger has always been about winning above stats. This Sunday, he should get them both.