Rashard Mendenhall got drilled at the goal line but was still able to punch the ball in, good for Pittsburgh's first touchdown of the afternoon. Oakland's subsequent drive was stifled by great Steelers tackling and a well-executed blitz up the middle by linebacker James Farrior. The veteran brought down Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell, notching his second sack of the season.
Pittsburgh's next drive was a good one. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger snuck the ball between three Oakland defenders to Hines Ward - a 10-yard completion. On the next play, tight end Heath Miller hauled in a pass in the flats and ran it for an 18-yard gain. Left tackle Jonathan Scott was injured on the play; the hits just keep coming for Pittsburgh's offensive line. Trai Essex is now in at tackle. Essex's usual starting spot, right guard, has been filled by Ramon Foster. Even before the injury to Scott, today marked Pittsburgh's fifth different combination of starters on the offensive line this season.
On the Steelers' third drive of the quarter, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians dialed up a reverse to speedster Mike Wallace - good for 19 yards. It was Pittsburgh's second trick play of the afternoon but their first successful one. A few plays later, rookie Antonio Brown made a really tough 20-yard catch in traffic, the second of his young career. Later, on a 3rd & 5, Roethlisberger scrambled left and looked like he would slide after picking up the first down. However, he awkwardly but effectively juked an Oakland cornerback and eventually found himself stretching for the end zone. The Raiders were in man coverage, and all of the Steelers receivers were moving right, opening up a giant portion of the field for the scramble. It was Roethlisberger's first rushing touchdown of the season.
The Raiders were backed up against their own end zone on the following drive. Outside linebacker James Harrison sacked Campbell. It was his eighth sack of the season. On 3rd & 14, Pittsburgh cornerback was flagged for forcing Louis Murphy out of bounds, sustaining the Raiders drive. Fortunately, Taylor bounced back on the very next play, stripping Murphy after a short reception on a hitch route. Pittsburgh recovered the fumble, starting their drive on the Oakland 35. The Steelers capitalized shortly thereafter on a gorgeous catch by Emmanuel Sanders. It was the rookie's second touchdown in the past two weeks.
Who knows what made him do it, but Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour popped Roethlisberger in the head after the play, getting himself ejected in the process. Roethlisberger crumpled to the ground instantly but seemed to be okay. Having Seymour out of the lineup is an obvious boon for Pittsburgh. On Oakland's next drive, Farrior sacked Campbell again. The Raiders really have no answer for Pittsburgh's blitzes up the middle.
Despite totaling 103 penalty yards and leaving a handful of plays on the field in the passing game, Pittsburgh has been dominant in the first half. Oakland has yet to convert on third down and trails Pittsburgh in total yards, 52 to 228. Raiders running back Darren McFadden, who entered today's game leading the league with 108.1 rushing yards per game, has been a mere rumor through two quarters, totaling eight yards on seven carries (1.1 ypc). Pittsburgh leads at the half, 21-3.