Steelers Catch Break as Raiders Lose All-Pro Defender for Season

Gerald McCoy

Getty Gerald McCoy is carted off the field at Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium.

The Las Vegas Raiders defense had a pretty stellar Week 1 performance against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. Fortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, that means their rival Ravens start the season 0-1. Unfortunately for the Raiders, as it sometimes does in the NFL, that stellar performance came at a cost.

After suffering a season-ending injury, Las Vegas defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will miss the rest of the season versus the Ravens (per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport).

This comes after the Raiders revealed on September 14 that starting right guard Denzelle Good will also miss the season with a torn ACL.

McCoy, 33, was with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020 until he was cut after sustaining a quadriceps injury during training camp. The All-Pro worked to get back into football shape and only joined the Raiders roster in August.

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Do Not Count Raiders Out

Though the Raiders have some tough injuries on both sides of the ball to contend with and are down some players, the Steelers should not count them out.

Pittsburgh tends to play down to what it views as lesser opponents. The Raiders could easily be seen as one of those teams, given the franchise hasn’t enjoyed a winning record in five years. Even so, head-to-head, the Steelers are 1-3 versus the Silver and Black since 2012 — overlooking them would be a massive mistake.

Ben Roethlisberger, Meet Maxx Crosby

Las Vegas head coach Jon Gruden is a taskmaster. Whipping his team into shape has been a process, but his patience appears to be paying off.

This is evident by defensive end Maxx Crosby being named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week on September 15.

Crosby gave former Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva fits on Monday night, September 13. But those fits played a vital role in the Ravens’ loss, so Steelers fans have Villanueva to partially thank for that.

All jokes aside, Ben Roethlisberger might want to prepare himself for the wrath of Crosby. As a unit, the Steelers offensive line is a major work in progress, with right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor its weakest link. In Pittsburgh’s Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills, Okorafor allowed Roethlisberger to be hit once, hurried once, and pressured twice (per Pro Football Focus). Okorafor’s PFF pass-block grade was an ugly 40.4, so he’ll have his hands full with the Raiders premier edge rusher.

T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward Snubbed

Crosby earning Player of the Week honors means that, obviously, Steelers’ star defenders T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward did not.

Watt, coming off an offseason where he did not practice and a preseason where he did not play, looked to be in midseason form. He sacked the Bills’ Josh Allen twice and forced a fumble on a crucial 3rd-and-13, which Heyward recovered.

With 12 total pressures and that recovered fumble, Heyward’s outstanding performance earned him the highest PFF grade in the entire NFL (95.3). Take that, Maxx-with-two-exes-Crosby!

The defense, as a whole, showed no signs of missing the key component Stephon Tuitt. Last season, the Steelers’ defensive end was dominant with 11 sacks in 15 games. Tuitt was placed on injured reserve on September 1, and the team would take a hit if he missed extended time. Because of the new injured reserve rules, players are eligible to return after three weeks (instead of eight). If all goes well with Tuitt’s recovery process, he could be back in the lineup for Pittsburgh’s matchup in the frozen tundra of Green Bay.

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