It's been really great to see the Steelers actually have a pass rush today after failing to pressure Tom Brady in last week's loss to the New England Patriots. Oakland's first drive of the second half concluded with quarterback Jason Campbell stumbling to the ground, then quickly touched down by James Harrison. It was Harrison's second sack of the afternoon and Pittsburgh's fourth.
Rookie standout center Maurkice Pouncey limped toward the sideline on Pittsburgh's next drive and was replaced momentarily by Doug Legursky. On the next play, guard Chris Kemoeatu seemed to cramp up and had to be attended to by team trainers. The only thing more abundant than injuries to Steelers offensive linemen were Pittsburgh penalty yards; the squad picked up right where they left off in the first half with penalties two penalties on the drive.
Harrison added to his enormously impressive stat line by hauling in a bobbled pass to Marcel Reece for an interception, the game's first. Pittsburgh's next drive was stifled by (surprise, surprise!) a holding penalty and Oakland's second sack of the afternoon. A gift-wrapped pick-six by Ike Taylor was nullified by another terrible call by the officials: Harrison was flagged for roughing the passer for...tackling him. Honestly, these penalties against guys like Harrison and Ryan Clark are just getting out of control. How are they supposed to play the game?
On Pittsburgh's next drive, someone - and I say "someone," because the referees didn't specify who - was flagged on a phantom unnecessary roughness call. It looked like tight end Matt Spaeth coughed up the ball after a short catch-and-run, and numerous players from both teams dove into the pile. Still, the replay showed nothing unnecessarily rough. It will be interesting to see how the refs account for their terrible, terrible performance today later in the week.
Raiders head coach Tom Cable pulled Campbell for Bruce Gradkowski late in the quarter. There's no question in my mind that he's better than Campbell, who Oakland traded for in the offseason. That said, Gradkowski went 5 for 7 on his first drive but chucked a fatal interception to safetry Troy Polamalu, who now has three picks on the year.
After three quarters, the score remains 21-3, Pittsburgh.