Steeler Nation doesn’t just reside in the surrounding areas of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. It is a world-wide army that lives and dies with the NFL franchise that calls Pittsburgh it’s home. The six-time Super Bowl champions are a team that always strives for excellence, and their fans expect nothing less in return. This is the ultimate Steelers Game Day Preview that all followers of the black and gold come to find everything they need to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation), who covers both Pitt football and the Steelers for NGSC Sports, brings you inside the huddle for both teams with a weekly game story, the Steelers offensive and defensive game plans for success, prediction, game day information, a detailed breakdown of each team, and an up to date team injury report. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform.
Steelers ready for a rocking Heinz Field crowd
If there’s one constant with the Raiders (0-1) whether they call Oakland, Los Angeles, or now Las Vegas home, they know how to stir the pot when it come to the rivalry between the two teams.
Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr was the culprit this week as he took a swipe at the Immaculate Reception, the play that basically put the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) on the path of success since that day in 1972.
“You got to respect them obviously,” said Carr, before letting out a small smile. “That ball touched the ground (The Immaculate Reception).
“We’ve had our fair share of battles in my career too, which is fun for me to have a little bit of history in that rivalry. Just crazy memories when you think about these two teams, and I’m blessed that I get to live a life where I get to be a part of that honestly.
“As a football fan, I’m honored that I get to even step on the field at Heinz Field and get to play against these guys. It’s cool for me as a fan, but as a competitor you want to do well and win the game.”
Defensive end Cam Heyward, who will be busy chasing down Carr all day Sunday, had a response to Carr’s comments.
“Everyone likes to talk like Franco didn’t catch the ball,” said Heyward. “Let’s just be honest. Raiders-Steelers are always full of shenanigans.”
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin expects a hostile crowd awaiting the Raiders, as this will be the first real game action Steelers fans have witnessed since 2019.
“I’m excited about it, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking to our team about it,” said Tomlin. “I’m going to talk to our team about the responsibility of creating that environment. It’s our job to make the plays, to keep the crowd engaged, to entertain them and to make it as hostile as we can make it. We talked openly about that a week ago. We knew that if we made plays, we had an opportunity to kind of quell the environment that we were in. We didn’t make enough plays early on. Giving that big kickoff and you spot them three points and you’re not gaining fluidity. We didn’t make the job easy for ourselves. We’ll proceed with that understanding.
“We’re excited about getting back into the comforts of Heinz Field and entertaining Steelers Nation. But we also are not running away from it, we’re running to the responsibilities that comes with playing at Heinz Field.”
One player that will surely energize the crowd will be the play of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who brings back memories of a certain #43, Troy Polamalu, with his play-making abilities.
“You know, Troy is Hall of Fame, but if there’s a player we can compare him to, I like Minkah,” Pittsburgh cornerback Joe Haden said. “I’ve heard Troy isn’t too much of a talker. You don’t say too much, you let your ball say for itself. And, at the same time, always wanting to be the best.
“Minkah prepares as if he’s not even on the team. That just shows that you’ve got your All-Pro safety; what are you not to be working hard.
“I didn’t get to play with Troy, but I can see playing with Minkah that that’s kind of the same person.”
One player Fitzpatrick won’t have to deal with is running back Josh Jacobs, who will be out for the Raiders, along with plenty of company. Las Vegas also ruled out linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (concussion), backup quarterback Marcus Mariota (quadriceps), guard Richie Incognito (Calf) and safety Roderic Teamer (ankle).
Corner Joe Haden (groin) and linebacker Devin Bush (Groin) are listed as questionable for Pittsburgh.
Steelers Game Plan for Success
- Ben Roethlisberger: Wasn’t as sharp as he wanted to be, missing some short throws last week, so Big Ben needs to come out firing on all cylinders and be accurate vs a suspect Raiders secondary.
- Prioritize Najee Harris: If there was a game for Harris to showcase his talents, it’s this one. The Raiders were shredded by the Ravens last week for nearly 200 yards on the ground. Turn him loose and provide some space for the kid to run.
- Pressure Derek Carr: The Ravens were after him all day, so the Steelers defense should be licking their chops in anticipation of this one.
- Darren Waller: The kid is a stud, and one of the top tight ends in the game. The defense will have to find ways to keep him from making too many big plays.
What more can you ask for than the return of 68,000 football starved Steelers fans, all waving the Terrible Towels in unison?
The game day crowd will be loud and hungry to see their Steelers come charging out of the tunnel to face a hated historic rival in the Raiders.
Expect a sharper, more accurate Big Ben with this throws, and an unleashing of rookie RB Najee Harris upon the Raider’s weak run defense.
Speaking of defense, the 2021 version of the Steel Curtain should have Las Vegas QB Derek Carr on the run for his life most of the game. The Raiders don’t run very well, so stopping tight end Darren Waller is the biggest priority for this defense to game plan.
As long as the Steelers don’t have any mind-numbing turnovers or breakdowns, they should be in control of this game from the start… Steelers 31 Raiders 20
Game Day Information
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Las Vegas Raiders
- Vegas line: Pittsburgh -5.5
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
- Field: Kentucky Blue Grass
Game-time: Sunday, September 19th at 1:00 pm
TV: CBS (Local on KDKA-TV)
- Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Charles Davis (analyst) | Evan Washburn (reporter)
Local radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM & 970 WBGG-AM
- Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Craig Wolfley (analyst) | Max Starks (sideline)
Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com
Weather at kickoff: 77 and sunny. Winds out of the East at 4 mph.
Steelers vs Raiders History
Series History: Began in 1970
Overall Record: 13-16
- Home: 8-5
- Away: 5-11
- Postseason: 3-3
Streak: Raiders won the last game.
Last regular-season meeting: Raiders Win, 24-21 (Dec. 9, 2018)
Last postseason meeting: Raiders Win, 38-10 (Jan. 1, 1984)
Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall record: 1-0 (1st in AFC North)
Last game: Steelers 23 Bills 16
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (14th Season with Steelers)
- Overall regular-season record: 146-78-1
- Playoff record: 8-8 (Qualified for playoffs 9 times)
- 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster
- Steelers Team/Individual Statistics
- Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Schedule
Strengths: A strong passing game on the arm of Roethlisberger who has a bevy of weapons at his disposal to utilize.
Weaknesses: The offensive line needs to show improvement each game, providing pass protection for Big Ben and some holes for Harris to run through.
- Points per game: 26
- Total yards per game: 263
- Passing yards per game: 188
- Rushing yards per game: 75
Starting Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger | Back-up: Mason Rudolph
- Ben Roethlisberger has some misfires in his first game, but never wavered. Hopefully those short passes will be rectified this week. Overall, Big Ben had 188 yards passing with a touchdown pass. He was sacked twice.
Starting Running Back: Najee Harris | Back-up: Benny Snell, Jr. and Kalen Ballage.
- Rookie Najee Harris grinded out 45 tough yards in his debut.
Wide Receivers: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Juju Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ray-Ray McCloud.
- Diontae Johnson leads the team with five catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. Chase Claypool made some great combat catches last week, grabbing down three receptions for 45 yards. Juju Smith-Schuster leads with 52 yards receiving off of four catches. James Washington recorded two catches for 10 yards while Johnson was out briefly with an injury.
Tight Ends: Eric Ebron, Pat Friermuth, and Zach Gentry.
- Eric Ebron has one catch for 19 yards, while rookie Pat Friermuth also has one reception for 24 yards. Both will see more throws in their direction as Roethlisberger utilizes his tight ends often.
Placekicker: Chris Boswell
- Extra Points: 2-2
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 2-2
- 30-39 yards: 0-0
- 40-49 yards: 1-1
- 50+ yards: 0-0
Steelers Defense (Base 3-4)
Strengths: Great pass rush that limits opposing run game as well.
Weaknesses: DE Stephon Tuitt will be out for at least two more weeks.
- Points per game allowed: 16
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 371
- Passing yards allowed: 254
- Rushing yards allowed: 17
- Sacks: 3
- Interceptions: 0
Defensive Line: Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, and Chris Wormley.
- Cam Heyward and Chris Wormley bookend Tyson Alualu in the middle. Wormley will be in for starter Stephon Tuitt who is out for a minimum of two more weeks. Heyward a sack and a fumble recovery last week.
Linebackers: T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, and Melvin Ingram/Alex Highsmith.
- Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt leads a solid linebacker corps alongside Devin Bush, who returns from a knee injury in 2020, Joe Schobert, a Pro Bowler acquired from Jacksonville, and Alex Highsmith. Expect to see plenty of time for Melvin Ingram, another former Pro Bowl player who began his career with the Chargers. Watt had two sacks in the opener. Bush had ten tackles in his first game back. Schobert had a nice debut with six tackles.
Secondary: Joe Haden, Terrell Edmunds, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Sutton.
- Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton will be at the corners with Minkah Fitzpatrick at free safety and Terrell Edmunds at strong safety. Fitzpatrick co-leads the team with 10 tackles. CB James Pierre will see plenty of field time in the nickle.
Steelers Special Teams
Punter: Pressley Harvin III
Kickoff Returners: Ray-Ray McCloud
Punt Returner: Ray-Ray McCloud
Scouting report: McCloud did not return any kickoffs last week and is averaging just 5.0 yards per punt return.
Scouting the Las Vegas Raiders
Overall record: 1-0 (1st in AFC West)
Last game: Raiders 33 Ravens 27 OT
Head coach: Jon Gruden (9th season with Las Vegas)
- Overall regular-season record: 114-110 | 57-55 with Las Vegas
Strengths: Tight end Darren Waller is a beast and Derek Carr’s top target.
Weaknesses: Weak offensive line that doesn’t give Carr much time to pass. Running game has been hampered by Josh Jacobs, who hasn’t been fully healthy in a long time.
- Points per game: 33
- Total Offense per game: 517
- Passing yards per game: 435
- Rushing yards per game: 82
Starting Quarterback: Derek Carr | Back-up: Marcus Mariota* and Nate Peterman
- Derek Carr has talent, but has been inconsistent through his career. Carr lead his team to victory with a strong 2nd half vs the Ravens. Carr has thrown for 435 yards passing, with two touchdowns and one interceptions. He was sacked three times. Marcus Mariota is out this week, so former Pitt Panther Nate Peterman will be the back-up.
Starting Running Back: Josh Jacobs* | Back-up: Kenyan Drake, Peyton Barber and Alec Ingold
- Josh Jacobs had just 34 yards rushing, but scored two touchdowns. Jacobs is out this week, so Kenyan Drake will receive plenty of time in the backfield. Drake has rushed for 11 yards and has five catches for 59 yards. Peyton Barber will likely get some time this week as well.
Wide Receivers: Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones
- Henry Ruggs has two catches for 46 yards. Zay Jones mirrors those numbers, but had the game winning touchdown catch in overtime. Hunter Renfrow leads all wideouts with six receptions for 70 yards, while Bryan Edwards has caught four balls for 81 yards.
Tight Ends: Darren Waller and Foster Moreau
- Darren Waller is one of the best tight ends in the game. He has 10 catches for 105 yards and a TD.
Placekicker: Daniel Carlson
- Extra Points: 3-3
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 0-0
- 30-39 yards: 1-1
- 40-49 yards: 0-0
- 50+ yards: 1-1
Raiders Defense (Base 4-3)
Strengths: Decent pass rush. Recorded three sacks in opener. DE Maxx Crosby will be after Roethlisberger all day.
Weaknesses: Rush defense was gashed for 189 yards on the ground vs Ravens.
- Points per game allowed: 27
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 406
- Passing yards allowed: 217
- Rushing yards allowed: 189
- Sacks: 3
- Interceptions: 0
Scouting report: LB’s Denzel Perryman and Cory Littleton lead the team with 10 tackles each. DE Maxx Crosby has two sacks. Safety Johnathan Abram has nine tackles.
Raiders Special Teams
Kickoff Returners: Henry Ruggs III
Punt Returner: Hunter Renfrow
Scouting report: Henry Ruggs is averaging 16.5 yards per kickoff return. Hunter Renfrow is averaging 5.0 yards per punt return.
Injury Report (9/17/21)
- Out: DE Stephon Tuitt (knee), DT Carlos Davis (Knee)
- Doubtful: None reported
- Questionable: CB Joe Haden (Groin), LB Devin Bush (Groin), TE Zach Gentry (Ankle)
Las Vegas Raiders
- Out: G Richie Incognito (Calf), RB Josh Jacobs (Toe/Ankle), LB Nick Kwiatkoski (Concussion), QB Marcus Mariota (Quad), S Roderic Teamer (Ankle),
- Doubtful: None reported
- Questionable: DE Carl Nassib (Pectoral/Toe), DE Yannick Ngakoue (Hamstring), DT Darius Philon (Knee)
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
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As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.
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