Things got started off in the very style of a new era when an unlikely guest took his turn lighting the "The fire that burns brightest" at game time in memoriam of late owner, Al Davis.
It was none other than Marcus Allen. Allen's feud with late owner Al Davis and Allen was legendary. Allen never forgave Davis for what he saw as trying to ruin his career. But he always loved Mrs. Davis and remained friends with his son and now owner, Mark Davis. Allen was one of the first phone calls Mrs Davis received upon Al Davis' death. And here he was to pay tribute to the man who drafted him and owned the team for which Allen won a Super Bowl.
On to the game.
The Raiders had an unfortunate interception on their first play when Denarius Moore slipped on the dirt. The Steelers capitalized with a touchdown. But the Raiders didn't let it get them down. On the third play of the next drive, Darren McFadden got the hole in the line he had been waiting for all season long and he took full advantage.
McFadden got some fantastic blocking from Jared Veldheer, Cooper Carlisle, and Stefen Wisniewski to open that gaping hole. Then he made the safety miss and sprinted 64 yards to paydirt. It is a play that would make Marcus Allen proud. Although I am not sure it would make Todd Christensen get tears in his eyes.
While the Raiders were reveling in the return of the run game, another aspect returned-the turnover.
This fumble was caused when Desmond Bryant got into the Steelers backfield and punched the ball out from behind. It was the first turnover for the Raiders this season
The Raiders would capitalize on that turnover and the short field it provided. They drove to the three yard line and then finished off the drive like they had not done this season.
On the play, Darrius Heyward-Bey, gets the corner and puts a little shove onto the shoulder of Ryan Mundy which is just enough to gain him the separation he needs to cradle the perfectly thrown fade pass from Carson Palmer.
Now with the offense getting a big play and finishing a drive, and the defense getting a turnover, it was time for the special teams to get into the act.
The first time the Raiders touched the ball in the third quarter was after the Steelers had already scored a second half touchdown. Mike Goodson was back to receive the ensuing kickoff and this is what he did with it.
It was a 51-yard return which is the longest of the season for the Raiders.
The big return put the Raiders in Steelers' territory at their 48-yard line. They took the short field and again led a drive toward the endzone. Once they got to the ten yard line, they handed it off to Darren McFadden who had two hard-fought runs to set the Raiders up in second and goal at the one yard line.
The first run, if you watch closely, you can see he looks to be down for no gain but props himself up on a down player and runs for five yards. The second run, he looks to be stopped again but fights through it and nearly scores the touchdown. The Raiders would score a touchdown on the next play with a pass from Palmer to Richard Gordon.
The next time the Raiders got the ball, they were on the move again. And after the hard hit on Darrius Heyward-Bey that had him taken from the game on a stretcher, the Raiders had to pick themselves up and finish off the drive.
The final play had Carson Palmer escaping pressure, running out left to see Denarius Moore come off his route and break open. Palmer hit him perfectly along the sideline in the endzone for a touchdown. It finished off the longest drive of the day for the Raiders, 11 plays for 80 yards.
The Steelers would get the ball back up 31-28 and looking to put the game away. Those tables were turned very quickly. On the third play of their drive in fact.
Now, with just over six minutes on the clock, the Steelers were looking to hold onto the ball and set themselves up for the game winner. But the defense stepped up and ended those hopes.
It was like the Raiders could turn on the pressure anytime they wanted. Shaughnessy flushed Ben Roethlisberger from the pocket where Richard Seymour was waiting to sack him. Then the drive ended when the Raiders brought the house and Miles Burris hit Roethlisberger as he threw to end the drive.
The Raiders got the ball back with 1:43 seconds on the clock. They took 1:22 to drive into Janikowski field goal range and then used another :18 seconds to move the ball onto the grass to allow the Polish cannon a grassy launch pad.
Janikowski knew the kick was true the moment it left his foot. Game over. Dennis Allen celebrates his first win as a head coach. Plenty of reason to celebrate.