Palmer leads Raiders to buzzer-beater field goal to top Steelers
Finally, starting right tackle Khalif Barnes was inactive, and Willie Smith, claimed off waivers on September 1st, made the start. Interestingly enough, the offensive line looked far better than it had in the first two games, finally opening up holes for electrifying running back Darren McFadden, who finished with 113 rushing yards.
The most promising sign for the Raiders was their offensive line, which finally looked comfortable in their new zone blocking scheme. They opened holes for McFadden and protected Palmer, who was sacked only once. As a team, the Raiders ripped off 5.7 yards per carry, which gave them a big edge over the Steelers, who boasted only a 2.7 yard average.
The biggest concern for the Raiders remains to be their depleted secondary. Top corner Ron Bartell was placed on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury, and number two corner Shawntae Spencer is out indefinitely with a foot injury. The fact that the Raiders' down-linemen aren't rushing the passer as efficiently as expected has the secondary struggling mightily to stay with opposing receivers.
The Raiders travel to Denver to play the Broncos next week, where they'll look to make some noise within the division. If the offense can continue to improve the way it did this past week, they'll have a shot at knocking the division favorites down to a 1-3 record while propelling themselves to 2-2. Their biggest challenge will be keeping Peyton Manning from completing 110% of his passes.