Steelers notebook: Running game fails to make an impact
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The 2012 season is three games old and the Steelers are still in search of their first 100-yard rushing game by a running back. Actually, the Steelers are still searching for their first 50-yard game by a back.
The passing game soared in a 34-31 loss to the Raiders Sunday at O.co Coliseum, but the running game sputtered yet again.
The leading rusher for the Steelers was Isaac Redman, but he could only manage 27 yards on nine carries. As a team, the Steelers rushed for 54 yards on 20 carries.
The rushing statistics have decreased with each game. They had 75 yards against the Denver Broncos and 66 yards a week ago against the New York Jets.
The highest total for a back in any of the first three games is Jonathan Dwyer, who had 43 yards on nine carries against the Broncos.
"I thought it was spotty at times, but I thought when we had a chance we were efficient," guard Willie Colon said. "We have to be cleaner. The more we run the ball the better we'll get."
The Steelers attempted 20 rushes against the Raiders. They had 26 against Denver and 28 against New York.
The lone bright spot for the running game came when the Steelers went for it on fourth-and-1 from their 29 on their final drive. Redman burst through the line for a 5-yard gain.
"I intended to go for it all along," coach Mike Tomlin said. "I wasn't going to punt the football to them. We hadn't stopped them enough in the second half to do that. I was inside of 1 [yard], and if you can't get inside of 1 [yard], you deserve to lose the game. I won't hesitate to do that."
Raiders receiver Darius Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious and was attended to on the field for 20 minutes before being carted off early in the fourth quarter. Heyward-Bey was struck by safety Ryan Mundy as he attempted to make a catch in the end zone. He appeared to be knocked unconscious before he hit the turf. He was taken to Eden Medical Center with a neck injury and was listed in stable condition Sunday night. He was to stay in the hospitalized overnight.
"I just went in to try to make a play," Mundy said. "It's a split-second thing. You never want to see anyone on a stretcher like that. You never try to intentionally hurt anyone. But if I don't hit him there, it's a touchdown.
"I thought I went in low with my shoulder. But then he ducked down ... I hope he's not hurt bad. I definitely will reach out to him."
On the possibility of being fined, Mundy acknowledged it's a possibility in the NFL climate and said, "We'll see what happens."
Ryan Clark was able to intercept Carson Palmer's first pass of the game with help from second base. At least near where the Oakland Athletics second baseman lines up when they play baseball at O.co Coliseum.
Targeted receiver Denarius Moore slipped on the only dirt baseball infield left in the NFL. The ball sailed right into Clark's hands, the only interception in three games for the Steelers and one of only three turnovers in three games. That interception led to the first touchdown of the game.
Marcus Allen lit a torch high atop O.co Coliseum before the game in honor of Al Davis, the former owner of the Raiders who died last year.
Allen's appearance in Oakland ended a long-standing feud between Allen and the Davis family. Mark Davis, Al's son, reached out to Allen to make it happen. Allen played for the Raiders for 11 seasons when the Raiders played in Los Angeles, but he ended his career with Kansas City because of a falling out with Al Davis over a contract dispute.
Replacement referee David White failed to identify either Steelers player who was penalized on Antonio Brown's 72-yard punt return that was nullified by a holding penalty. There also was an illegal block in the back on the play.
When the Steelers were penalized again in the second quarter, for a facemask on another punt return, White again failed to identify which Steelers player was flagged.
The Raiders moved Michael Huff from starting free safety to starting left cornerback, one of three lineup changes on defense because of injuries.
Matt Giordano replaced Huff at free safety. Patt Lee replaced Pitt and Woodland Hills High School's Shawntae Spencer at right cornerback and on offense started Willie Smith for injured Khalif Barnes.
The Steelers held steady with their lineup changes: Isaac Redman started at halfback for Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Carter for James Harrison at outside linebacker and Ryan Mundy for Troy Polamalu at free safety. Rookie tackle Mike Adams, though, did not suit up for the game because of a back injury. Rookie tackle-guard Kelvin Beachum replaced him as one of the two backups at offensive line today.
• Mike Wallace recorded his 13th 100-yard receiving game. He has scored a touchdown in each of the first three games of the season for the first time in his career and it's the second time in his career that he recorded touchdown catches in any three consecutive games.
• Tight end Heath Miller also has touchdown catches in each of the first three games, the first time he has done that in his career. Miller surpassed his touchdown total from last year when he caught two.
• In all three games, the Steelers have scored on their final drive of the first half and the first drive of the second half.
Besides Mendenhall, Adams, Polamalu and Harrison, the Steelers deactivated QB Charlie Batch, LB Stevenson Sylvester and DL Alameda Ta'amu.
The Raiders also deactivated QB Terrelle Pryor, OT Joe Barksdale, OL Lucas Nix, WR Juron Criner and DL Christo Bilukidi.
First Published September 24, 2012 12:00 am