Steeler Notebook: Haynes, linebacker lost for season

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Their loss yesterday to the Raiders might have cost the Steelers a realistic chance to make the playoffs. It certainly ended the season for two of their players.

Halfback Verron Haynes and linebacker Arnold Harrison each left the game yesterday with knee injuries.

"I think we probably lost Verron and Arnold Harrison for the year," coach Bill Cowher said.

Starting center Jeff Hartings also left the game after a first-half knee injury that Cowher said could keep him out "for an extended period of time."

Chukky Okobi replaced Hartings to start the second half and threw two good blocks to help spring Willie Parker for his 25-yard screen pass reception for a touchdown.

Parker and Najeh Davenport took turns replacing Haynes as the third-down back. Veteran Duce Staley, who has been inactive for all but one game this season, probably will suit up to take Haynes' place on the game-day roster. The Steelers will add two players to their 53-man roster to take the spots of Haynes and Harrison.

1-2 for 300

Ben Roethlisberger completed a desperation, 49-yard pass to Nate Washington on the game's final play, which ended at the Oakland 4. That pass left Roethlisberger with the third 300-yard game of his career. He's 1-2 when he tops 300.

Roethlisberger completed 25 of 37 passes for 301 yards. He was sacked five times and had a 61.7 passer rating.

More satisfying

The win was the second in a row for the Raiders after an 0-5 start. This one clearly felt better to them than the one a week earlier against the Arizona Cardinals.

Coach Art Shell gave all the credit to his defense, which intercepted four Roethlisberger passes and sacked him five times.

"I thought our defense was magnificent throughout the football game," Shell said. "They kept pressure on the quarterback. They kept working to shut down the run. They got turnovers. They played as good as any defense could play in this league against the world champions."

Who's it on?

The Steelers were flagged for consecutive unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties on the first series of the third quarter. Those 30 yards in penalties helped a Raiders field-goal drive.

The first was charged to linebacker Larry Foote, who shoved a Raiders player after the whistle. The Steelers said they had no idea why the second was called.

"There was some talk taking place and the official thought it was directed at him, and the players thought it was being directed at each other." Cowher said. "It was called."

End-zone bump

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes thought he was hit early by linebacker Kirk Morrison in the end zone on Roethlisberger's fourth-down pass that fell incomplete with 1:38 left.

"The ref didn't make a call and you have to live with it," Holmes said. "We had plenty of opportunities before that, too, to get in the end zone. One call really doesn't determine a game."

A rivalry cooled

The Steelers and Raiders once had one of the great rivalries in NFL history. Their postseason meetings in the 1970s were epics; they met in the playoffs (twice) or the AFC championship game (three times) five consecutive times from 1972-76, including the famous Immaculate Reception game in '72 in Three Rivers Stadium.

The intensity of the rivalry, though, long ago died down. When the teams met yesterday it was with the lowest combined winning percentage in the series history (.250).

Lineup changes

In somewhat of a surprise, the Steelers started Chris Kemoeatu at right guard in place of veteran Kendall Simmons, who was not listed on their injury report the past week. Chris Hoke made his first start of the season at nose tackle for injured Casey Hampton.

Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter made his first appearance of the season and had a 19-yard catch to the Steelers' 4 on a drive that ended with a Janikowski field goal. Porter, who played at West Virginia, was inactive for the first four games, then suspended by the team for two games because of a season-long dispute with Shell.

Quick hits

The Steelers entered the game yesterday carrying the worst differential in average starting field position in the NFL. They were at minus-10.4 yards -- their offense starting on average at the 26 and their defense at the 36.4. Yesterday, their average drive started at the 30 and Oakland's at the 34. ... The Steelers had the second-worst six-game record of any Super Bowl defender. Only the 1987 New York Giants, who started 1-5, were worse. Four other defending Super Bowl defenders started 2-4, including the 1976 Steelers. ... Jeff Reed's second field goal, in the second quarter, was the 100th of his career. He's one of four Steelers kickers to make at least 100. ... LB Clark Haggans' two sacks yesterday give him the team lead with five. ... LB Joey Porter, returning after missing two games with a hamstring injury, intercepted a pass that was tipped by Deshea Townsend.

Inactives

Steelers: WR Willie Reid, RB Duce Staley, S Mike Logan, C Marvin Philip, OT Willie Colon, LB James Harrison, NT Casey Hampton, Brian St. Pierre (No. 3 QB).

Raiders: WR Johnnie Morant, RB Adimchinobe Echemandu, CB Duane Starks, G Brad Badger, G Corey Hulsey, TE James Adkisson, DE Kevin Huntley, Aaron Brooks (No. 3 QB).

Peter Diana, Post-Gazette photos
Joey Porter looks for room to run after an interception in the fourth quarter.
Click photo for larger image.
Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski chips in a 19-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Click photo for larger image.

Staff writer Ron Cook contributed to this report. Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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