Steelers-Raiders: They're history

Steelers-Raiders: They're history
October 25, 2013, 9:30 am
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Mike Tomlin was around when the Steelers-Raiders rivalry meant something — playoff games, trips to the Super Bowl — in the 1970s, but it’s not as if he would recall watching those intense match-ups. The Pittsburgh coach was not yet 1 year old when the Immaculate Reception happened.

Still, at least he had been born by then, which is more than you can say about the Steelers players, who got a history lesson about the two teams from their coach in advance of Sunday’s game in Oakland.

"Coach T was breaking down the history," cornerback Ike Taylor said, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "There's a lot of history behind those games. Back in the '70s. I wasn't even thought about. I was born in '80."

Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, a former Raider who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, said: "Anytime you have an old-school rivalry like that, it goes on forever. I think what keeps it going is the fans. The fans are so great in Pittsburgh, in Oakland, they've been around so long [and] they love their teams. They remember the old Steelers-Raiders games. That's what makes it special; the fans make it special."

But what about the fact that this is a game between 2-4 teams?

"It doesn't matter," Taylor said. "A lot of teams get up to play us for some reason. They're looking at our record, and they know it's going to be a physical game. Regardless what their record is, we know it's going to be a physical game."

This will be the ninth time the teams have played in the 2000s, a time when the Raiders have mostly been irrelevant and the Steelers have been playoff contenders. Pittsburgh and Oakland have split the previous eight games.

Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert said: "It's two storied franchises. Every time you step on the field, it's a close game, a big challenge. For decades.”