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5 things we learned from Raiders’ 26-17 win over the Steelers

Derek Carr is on early MVP pace after Week 2 win

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Derek Carr
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders played a complete game on Sunday in a 26-17 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers to improve to 2-0.

This was an impressive showing by Jon Gruden’s team in all aspects of the game. The Raiders are now in good early shape in the AFC playoff race with wins over expected AFC contenders, the Baltimore Ravens and the Steelers.

Carr is rolling:
Don’t be surprised if you see early MVP watch posts with Las Vegas Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr getting a lot of love. He’s been on a major roll. For the second straight week, Carr put up monster numbers. He completed 28 of 37 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns. Unlike Monday night against the Ravens, Carr was near perfect on Sunday and threw one beautiful pass after another. He is carrying this offense that is struggling to find a running game.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Henry Ruggs III
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

How Ruggs helps:
Second-year wide receiver Henry Ruggs III had one of his better games with five catches for 113 yards. Of course, he and Carr made the play of the day with a 61-yard touchdown pass play to give the Raiders a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter. Ruggs may never become a consistent No. 1 receiving threat. But his speed plays. There will be several plays during this season when he takes the top of the defense off comes up with a big play. Ruggs seems to relish his role, he said this Sunday after the game: “Turning the game around on one play, that’s the player I see myself being and the feeling that I like.”

Offensive line health struggles continue:
Rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood didn’t play in the second half because of an oblique injury, so Brandon Parker took his place. The Raiders were already missing starting guard Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good (who is out for the season). Perhaps Incognito will return next week. We will see how it goes with Leatherwood because that is a tricky injury. It’s impressive that the Raiders have moved the ball so well (especially in the passing game) with all of these issues up front.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Solomon Thomas sacks Ben Roethlisberger
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Defense comes through:
It wasn’t a perfect performance. The Raiders, who led the NFL last week with 1 missed tackles, whiffed a few times again. But overall, they made it very uncomfortable for Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The pass rush was solid again and coverage was solid in the second. Solomon Thomas had two sacks and made a huge impact. This unit is a certainly a reason why the Raiders are 2-0.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
Hunter Renfrow
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Renfrow taking next step:
Raiders’ slot receiver Hunter Renfrow is becoming a huge weapon. He bailed out more Las Vegas droves again Sunday. He had five catches for 57 yards Sunday and has 11 catches for 127 yards. He is one pace for 93 catches for 1,079 yards. With tight end Darren Waller doing Darren Waller things, Renfrow is becoming a quiet assassin for the Raiders’ offense and is a big reason why Carr is thriving so much. Good luck stopping these guys.