Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Other Oakland Zoo

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Other Oakland Zoo

Article excerpt

In employing both a decapitation analogy and referring to the place as an animal pen, it's fair to say from Steelers guard Willie Colon's succinct description of his team's past visit to the Oakland- Alameda County Coliseum in 2006 that it made an impression, and not a good one.

"My rookie year," Colon said. "We walked into a zoo and got our heads cut off. We're gonna do our damnedest to try not to let that happen again."

That game, a 20-13 loss to a hapless Oakland lot by the then- defending Super Bowl champion Steelers, came courtesy of four Ben Roethlisberger interceptions and a goal line stand by the Raiders that effectively ended any chance of a repeat season for Pittsburgh.

Of course that was years ago, and the teams are vastly different now. However, two truths remain: 1, the Steelers stink on the West Coast (1-5 in the Pacific time zone since 2003) and 2, games with Oakland can get ugly.

The Raiders are consistently one of the league's most penalized teams. Oakland led the league in penalties the past two years (183 and 148 respectively, including 28 total personal fouls or roughing calls) and finished second in 2009, third in 2008 and second in 2007. They're off their normal pace a bit thus far this year, having amassed only 11 to the Steelers' not-exactly choirboy-like 18.

Colon was asked if it's hard to keep cool and stay disciplined when facing an opponent with a history of instigation.

"It can go both ways, man. They never catch the guy that first throws the blow, they always catch the second guy.

"Knowing that we're gonna be in their hometown, its gonna be loud. Obviously the Steelers-Raiders rivalry is big. We're not gonna be pushovers by no means -- but we have to be smart. Not to throw darts at the refs, but with these [replacement] refs, it's important for us to be mentally tough or we'll fall into that hole where we'll hurt ourselves more than anything."

During a 2010 game at Heinz Field, Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour punched Ben Roethlisberger in the face, which set off a mini-melee. …

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