The Oakland Raiders returned to the Coliseum looking for a big win over old AFC rivals Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Head coach Jon Gruden has been stellar all season at scripting an opening drive and that continued this week, helping his team take an early lead. Quarterback Derek Carr led the offense 74 yards down the field on eight plays, finishing it with a one-yard touchdown run from Doug Martin.
Without both James Conner and Leveon Bell, the Steelers turned to running back/tight end Jaylen Samuels to carry the ball. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s defense did a good job bottling him up. The Steelers rushed for just 40 yards.
The Raiders defense kept the Steelers off the scoreboard until the end of the first quarter, when running back Steven Ridley rushed up the middle for a two-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The Raiders defense did a good job slowing down Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense. The Raiders secondary held Antonio Brown to just five receptions for 35 yards. But with Brown limited, it was JuJu Smith-Schuster who found room to work. Smith-Schuster hauled in eight catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns, including an acrobatic catch to give the Steelers a 14-10 lead heading into halftime. Roethlisberger got hit hard on the play though, and was questionable to return.
Oakland’s defense reaped the benefits of going against backup quarterback Josh Dobbs. Linebacker Tahir Whitehead recorded his first interception on the year after Gareon Conley tipped a pass from Dobbs up into the air. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the offense couldn’t take advantage of the Steelers ineptitude and remained down 14-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Carr and the offense finally found some rhythm with their first drive of the fourth quarter. The offense went 74 yards on a game-high 14 plays and retook the lead when Carr found his big tight end Lee Smith for the touchdown.
Now down 17-14, Roethlisberger reentered the game to help lead the offense to another comeback just as he has done many times before. The Steelers went 70 yards on just six plays before Roethlisberger found Smith-Schuster for another touchdown pass to take a 21-17 lead.
Carr is no stranger to comeback wins himself though. With under four minutes left in the game, Carr calmly led the offense back down the field. Wide receiver Seth Roberts came up with a big 39-yard catch to help lead the team 75 yards on eight plays. Carr’s biggest throw came on third and goal from the Steelers six-yard line where Carr once again went to his tight end, but this time it was Derek Carrier who hauled in the go-ahead win.
But the Steelers still had :21 seconds to get into field goal range. Down 24-21, Roethlisberger went into his bag of tricks and it worked. The quarterback found James Washington who then lateraled the ball to Smith-Schuster who scampered down the field 48 yards to set up a 40-yard field goal try. Luckily for the Raiders, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell slipped on his attempt and the Raiders pulled out the unlikely 24-21 win.
The Raiders will now travel to Cincinnati next week to take on a Bengals team that just lost to the Los Angeles Chargers.