Steelers, Raiders search for running games

Associated Press Published: September 22, 2012
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers spent the offseason implementing new offenses designed to rely heavily on running games that could take a little pressure off their passers.

Two weeks into the season, neither running game has gotten off the ground.

Despite having a healthy Darren McFadden for a change, the Raiders (0-2) go into Sunday's game against the Steelers (1-1) with the league's second worst rushing attack.

"You don't let it frustrate you. The saving grace is, you know McFadden is back there," Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said. "He's one arm tackle away from breaking off a 40-, 50-yarder. He's got that potential, he's got that ability, he's done it before. We're going to stick with it. We're not frustrated. We're disappointed in ourselves for not executing it better but we're not going to let it frustrate us, we're not going to let it deter it from our goal."

The Steelers haven't had much better luck running the ball so far this season in new coordinator Todd Haley's offense.

Pittsburgh has rushed for just 141 yards the first two weeks and averaged a paltry 2.6 yards per carry, putting more pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game to get things going.

"It's obviously been a little frustrating because that was the emphasis of the offseason, getting a new coordinator, is running the ball and being able to pound it," Roethlisberger said. "But it's not working quite this minute and things aren't going well."

The Raiders have been much worse with just 68 yards rushing per game in losses to San Diego and Miami. For a team that has stressed being a run-first offense under coordinator Greg Knapp, it's not hard to figure why the offense has sputtered so much with a running game that can't get going.

McFadden, who missed the final nine games last season with a foot injury, is healthy but not productive. He has 54 yards on 26 carries as he once again has struggled while playing in a zone blocking system.

Knapp brought back the system the Raiders used in McFadden's first two seasons, which were filled with disappointments. McFadden emerged as one of the league's top backs once Hue Jackson brought his offense to Oakland that stressed more power running.

McFadden averaged 5.3 yards per carry under Jackson, compared to 3.7 in the other systems. The main difference has been the lack of big plays. He has also gone from having one of every 15 runs go for at least 20 yards to one of every 49.