The Oakland Raiders picked up their first win of the season on Sunday, a 34-31 nail-biter against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Oakland entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point deficit, but the Raiders rallied, and Sebastian Janikowski hit the game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired.
Entering Sunday's game, Darren McFadden had been struggling to find running lanes behind the Oakland zone blocking scheme. That changed against the Steelers, as McFadden rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The offensive line's zone blocking, which failed to open holes in the first two weeks of the season, was much better in Week 3. With a little more space, McFadden took advantage.
Levi Damien of Silver and Black Pride finds that McFadden and the offensive line looked comfortable with the zone for the first time this season. Unsurprisingly, that paid off with an improved rushing attack.
Darren McFadden has said he feel comfortable in the zone but there was no evidence to suggest that was the case. The offensive line has not been opening up the kind of holes expected in a zone scheme despite having three linemen with experience in it and two others who have all the traits one looks for in a zone lineman.
The Raiders and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp have pleaded for patience. He said it takes time for a unit to find their footing in the complicated scheme. It requires not just experience in the scheme but experience working together as a unit.
Today, they started to show that cohesiveness which Knapp and Dennis Allen have been assuring us they would find. They opened up several good sized holes including one that had had McFadden shooting through it and running for a 64 yard touchdown.
The Raiders play their next game at the Broncos on Sunday. Oakland-Denver will kick off at 4:05 p.m. ET and be televised by CBS.
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