PITTSBURGH — Through 11 games, the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense was the toughest to run against in the NFL. The Raiders paid no attention.
They rushed 18 times for 62 yards in the first half against a Steelers defense that had allowed an average of 74.9 yards per game before Sunday. Overall, the Raiders finished with 109 yards in their 27-24 victory.
"We knew it would be hard to run on this team," Raiders coach Tom Cable said, "But we challenged ourselves this week that we were going to get more than 100 yards."
The Raiders' modest ability to run the ball helped keep off balance a Steelers defense accustomed to loading up against the pass and paid huge dividends midway through the fourth quarter. The Raiders lined up in a formation featuring two tight ends and appeared as if they would run the ball on a third-and-one play from their own 25.
Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski sold the Steelers on the run with a play-action fake, allowing wide receiver Louis Murphy enough time to sprint free into the secondary. Murphy caught the ball in stride and beat safety Ike Taylor to the end zone. Boos then cascaded down from the sellout crowd at Heinz Field.
"I just knew that if you got in two tight ends and gave it a real forceful look that it was a run play, that you would get a chance," Cable said. "Wow, what a route. Then, (Gradkowski) made a perfect throw."
Right offensive tackle Cornell Green said he and his linemates took great pride in being able to open holes for the running backs.
"The boys went in there and ran it hard," Green said. "I don't think anyone has run for 100 yards against them in a long time, so that's a big accomplishment for us. That's a great time and that's what we want to get back to, the old tradition of the Raiders and Steelers. I know people watched."
Running back Michael Bush's pass for receiver Chaz Schilens sailed way over his head on a third-and-eight play from the Steelers' 26-yard line midway through the second quarter. Another gimmick play resulted in a loss of 16 yards, when Gradkowski was tackled just as he received a lateral from running back Darren McFadden. McFadden had taken a handoff from Gradkowski and headed right, then turned back to lateral to his left.
The first conversion kept alive a first-quarter drive that resulted in a Sebastian Janikowski field goal. The other conversion set up a drive that culminated with a go-ahead touchdown from Gradkowski to Schilens midway through the fourth quarter.
"He gets after it," Gradkowski said of Cable. "He is going to be more aggressive than not. "... So, Coach made some great calls out there, and it is exciting to see."
Chris Morris replaced Satele, Langston Walker took over for Gallery, and Mike Mitchell filled in for Branch for a short time.