This game was pretty much everything we had hoped and expected it would be. Both offenses lit up the opposing team's secondary and the high-scoring game came right down to the wire. Also as one might have expected, it was ultimately the home team Steelers who escaped with the win.
What we perhaps didn't expect was for the Raiders to be so careless with the football. The Raiders turned the ball over four times in this game. Three of those turnovers came on five fumbles, with the other one an interception in the end zone. With all the mistakes, it's a wonder they were able to still keep up with the Steelers in this game.
But they did. And here's how.
He just keeps raising his game, adding more and more brilliant throws as he gets more confident and comfortable in this offense and with his targets. He also came out firing once again, putting the Raiders on the board with a touchdown on the team's opening drive. A big run by Latavius Murray set the Raiders up in scoring position. Carr threw it to Crabtree on a post pattern up high and he leapt in the air for the touchdown.
The offense struggled for a while after that opening drive, letting the Steelers take the lead early in the second quarter. The following drive didn't result in a score, but a 20-yard connection with Crabtree, a nice punt, and a defensive stand set the Raiders up with good field position in Pittsburgh territory at the 40-yard-line.
Carr took advantage of the short field, connecting with Amari Cooper on a 13-yard pass play on third and 10 and finding Cooper wide open for a 15-yard touchdown to retake the lead at 14-11.
Two straight scores put the Steelers back up 21-14 at the half, and unlike the past two weeks, the Raiders weren't able to answer on the first drive of the third quarter. They answered on the second drive. On the drive the Raiders went 90 yards in 9 plays, facing third down just once. It featured a 14-yard AC/DC strike, and two hookups with Seth Roberts for 18 yards and 36 yards on third and 5 that put the Raiders at the 1-yard-line. Carr capped it with a roll out right to hit Clive Walford for the score and the tie.
The score would remain tied until early in the fourth quarter when a long touchdown drive was followed up by a fumbled Taiwan Jones kick return and suddenly the Raiders were down two scores.
Carr went to work immediately, leading the Raiders on a touchdown drive that went 60 yards in 4 plays. They set up in first down on every single play. The first three plays were passes to Cooper for 12, Roberts for 19, and Lee Smith for 10. The final 19 yards was a run up the middle by Jamize Olawale and the deficit was back to one score.
With another favorable field position, Carr had the Raiders ready to tie it up, when he made his one big mistake of the day. On third and 10 from the 12-yard-line, he missed an open Crabtree in the flat, instead opting for Clive Walford in the endzone who was blanketed by several defenders and the ball was intercepted. Walford may have cut off his route, but that ball should never have been thrown his way in the first place. Carr's heroics would have to wait. But not long.
The next time the Raiders got the ball, there was 2:15 on the clock. And they scored so quickly, it actually gave the Steelers a bit too much time to work with. Carr converted two third downs on the drive, with the biggest one for 14 yards to Crabtree on third and 10. The next play Carr saw Crabtree covered by a linebacker and threw a perfect pass to him on a post route for the touchdown.
It tied the game at 35, giving the Steelers just over a minute to move into scoring position. Which they did to win it. Carr finished 24 of 44 (54.5%) for 301 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception and a passer rating of 96.9.
He deserves a lot of credit for the plays he is drawing up for Carr and the Raiders offense. Even the plays that don't work out, you can see how they could have and probably should have. There was only a rare occasion in which the Steelers defense made the stop because they made the right call as opposed to simply the Raiders not executing it properly. ‘Muskrat' and Carr are working like one mind most of the time and the results are pretty special.
Carr's favorite target in this game, he ripped the Steelers defense for 7 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. His first catch of the day was a touchdown in which he went up high just inside the goal line to pull down the pass over two defenders.
Early in the second quarter, Carr hit Crabs on a short pass and he did the rest, sprinting for a 20-yard completion to set the Raiders up in Pittsburgh territory. The Raiders didn't score on the drive, but the field position battle was won and on the following drive, they did drive for a touchdown.
Late in the fourth quarter, Crabtree ended it just as he began it - with a touchdown catch. He set it up with a 14-yard grab and finished it off by hauling in a 38-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at 35.
Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Lee Smith
These three guys were doing some serious work in the run blocking arena Sunday. The first run of the day went up the middle for 44 yards and was cleared by a great Hudson block. Midway through the fourth, with the Raiders down two scores, Jackson plowed the way for Jamize Olawale to burst up the middle untouched for a 19-yard touchdown run. Smith was his usual violent blocking self on several runs in the game, but his best play he made with his foot. When Taiwan Jones fumbled on the Raiders' second series, Smith alertly kicked the ball out of bounds to keep the Steelers from recovering it. He added a 10-yard catch won the play prior to the Olawale touchdown run. In total, the Raiders 139 yards rushing on the day.
Donald Penn, Austin Howard
Derek Carr was not sacked in the game and both also contributed in run blocking. Not much more you can ask for from your two offensive tackles than that.
Mario Edwards Jr
The Steelers offensive line kept Edwards bottled up pretty well in the first half and even got a couple runs by him late in the second quarter. But as the game went on, he figured things out and in the second half was quite stout against a great run blocking line.
After a blocked punt, the Steelers began their first series of the second half in Raiders territory at the 46-yard line. They wouldn't get much farther due in large part to Edwards and his consecutive run stuffs to help bring out the punter after a three-and-out. He would add two more run stuffs in the game and help set up a third. While other were wearing down, he seemed to be getting a second wind.
This was a bit of a tough call considering he had two drops in this game and an incompletion on a miscommunication. Two of those mistakes happened on the same drive and cost the Raiders a chance to score in the second quarter. Ultimately, he made up those mistakes with his 7 catches for 88 yards and touchdown. His amends came quickly too, because two of his catches happened on the drive immediately following the one he stalled. They were big catches too - a 13-yard catch on third and 10 and a 15-yard touchdown catch.
Cooper would get things started on the Raiders first touchdown drive of the third quarter with a 14-yard catch. Later in the third quarter, he pulled in a 21-yard catch on first down that put the Raiders in Steelers territory. Then he had the initial catch again - this one for 12 yards -- on the Raiders' touchdown drive to pull back within one score at 35-28.
And one more time, he began the final Raiders touchdown drive with a 9-yard catch the first play. Carr goes to Coop on the first play of the game, so I guess it makes sense to start touchdown drives with some AC/DC as well.
Seth Roberts - Had 3 catches on 4 targets for 73 yards. His biggest catch went for 36 yards, stopping at the one-yard-line to set up third touchdown early in the third quarter to tie it up at 21-21.
Ben Heeney - Made the first tackle of the game to stop the Steelers' returner at the 16-yard-line and several other times was among the first on coverage teams to corral the returner. He also downed a punt inside the 10.
When you run for 96 yards on 17 carries, you should be a Baller. But when you fumble twice, that throws a wrench in things. His biggest play was his first run of the day when he burst up the middle for 44 yards to help set up the Raiders first touchdown. Then he didn't gain another yard until the second quarter.
He had three nice runs on the Raiders first drive of the second quarter for a total of 17 yards. He added a couple more good runs on the next drive to help them to their second TD of the game.
To begin the second half, he had two runs for a total of three yards. On the third, he fumbled the ball, it was picked up by safety Mike Mitchell and returned for a touchdown. But as it turned out, Mitchell had gone out of bounds and hadn't established himself back inbounds so the Raiders retained possession. Murray the Raiders dodged a bullet on that one.
Murray broke off a 15-yard run on the next drive. But the drive after that, he met up with Mitchell again, this time getting nailed and knocked unconscious for a moment and fumbling the ball away to the Steelers. The hit was legal and was mostly Murray fault for not lowering his shoulder on the run. He was running too upright which opened himself up for a big hit. He is now in the concussion protocol because of it.
It was feast or famine for Amerson Sunday. Overall the Raiders secondary was brutal. But Amerson made a few big plays to balance things out a bit. He had three passes defended in the game. The first one ended the Steelers' first drive on fourth down to turn the ball over on downs. The next time the Steelers got in scoring range, he ended that drive too with tight coverage to force and incompletion on third down. They settled for a field goal.
On the first play of the second quarter, Amerson was posterized by Antonio Brown who laid a vicious stiff arm on him to go for 11 yards on third and 9. It kept the drive alive and the Steelers scored their first touchdown at the end of it. The following series was ended by Amerson's second pass defended and the drive after that Amerson was burnt for a 41-yard catch to set up their second touchdown.
The final drive Amerson gave up a 19-yard catch and then ended the drive with a stop for 9 yards on third and 10. See; Feast of famine.
On a drive in the third quarter, he was called for an illegal hands to the face penalty. Three plays later, on third and 13, he blanketed Brown and picked off Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers got the ball back off of a turnover. Amerson gave up a 15-yard catch and then stopped a catch for four yards on third and ten. And the rollercoaster continued.
That rollercoaster hit its lowest point on the final Steelers drive with Amerson giving up a short catch to Brown which he took 57 yards. It set the Steelers up in field goal range where they kicked the game-winning field goal. Amerson was the windshield and the bug several times in this game.