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Steelers notebook: Palmer's knowledge of Steelers key to victory

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, 7:03 p.m.

• Raiders wide receiver Derek Hagan thinks it was a major advantage that quarterback Carson Palmer has opposed Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau so often; Palmer is 5-8 against Pittsburgh. “He knows what they were going to do,” Hagan said. “They pretty much did the same thing that they did six, seven years ago. Obviously, they've got a legendary D-coordinator. He's been running certain things that other teams have seen, that we've seen. We knew their tendencies and were able to hit them with some big plays when it really counted.” The Raiders scored on all five of their second half possessions.

• Maybe the Steelers' early bye week — they last had a bye after three games in 2006 — is coming at a good time. They have won coming off a bye each of the last four seasons. They beat Kansas City 13-9 last season after having their bye 11 weeks into the season. The Steelers practice Tuesday and Wednesday, then take four days off before resuming practice Monday.

• The Steelers don't have a rusher in the NFL's top 50. Isaac Redman is 51st with 72 yards on 32 carries and a 2.3 average. Defensively, the Steelers are tied for 21st with five sacks in three games, a season after they were 17th overall with 35 sacks. They are on pace for 27 sacks.

• Ben Roethlisberger's 109.2 quarterback rating is second in the NFL only to Matt Ryan's 114.0 for Atlanta. Roethlisberger had a 125.1 rating against the Jets on Sept. 16 and a 123.2 rating against the Raiders on Sunday. His career high didn't occur during any of his three Super Bowl seasons, but in 2007 ( 104.1). “He has a cannon for an arm,” Raiders defensive end Richard Seymour said. “He's a confident guy that can fit the ball in anywhere.”

• This is the second time a Mike Tomlin-coached team has dropped its first two road games; the Steelers lost to the Bears and Bengals in September 2009. “We've got to step into hostile environments and play ball,” defensive captain Brett Keisel said. “We can't just be reliant upon Heinz Field. In order for us to be the team we want to be, we have to play well on the road. We haven't shown that we can do that yet.”

• Offensive coordinator Todd Haley went to the no-huddle offense in Oakland after not using it against the Jets, and that pleased not just Roethlisberger, but left guard Willie Colon. “I think it's awesome,” Colon said. “I think Ben does an awesome job at it, we relate to it well. We do a good job of converting it when we have a chance.”

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