Raiders sneak past the Steelers
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Coach Jon Gruden ran off the field high-fiving Oakland fans on the way to the locker room.
In a season with very little to celebrate, the Raiders had plenty to feel good about Sunday.
Derek Carr threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Derek Carrier with 21 seconds left before Chris Boswell slipped on a potential game-tying 40-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the Raiders’ 24-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Carr threw two touchdown passes to overcome fourth-quarter deficits and the Raiders (3-10) then survived after allowing a 48-yard hook-and-lateral pass play that set up the final field goal try.
“The character of this team is impressive,” Gruden said. “No matter what anybody says or saw today, the character in there is special.”
Carr threw for 322 yards, including a 3-yard TD to Lee Smith that put Oakland up 17-14 with 5:20 to play. His second TD to Carrier capped his 16th career fourth-quarter game-winning drive.
“What we’ve kind of been preaching as a team is just resiliency because we’ve definitely faced adversity this year, and finishing strong, and that’s what we did today,” Carrier said. “We’ve been in position to win games and the ball just hasn’t rolled our way for one reason or another.”
Roethlisberger returned from a rib injury to lead a go-ahead touchdown drive that Carr answered. Big Ben then connected on a short pass to James Washington. Washington then flipped the ball to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who raced down the sideline for 43 more yards to set up Boswell’s chance.
But his lost his footing on the approach, sending the Steelers (7-5-1) to their third straight loss, all decided in the final minutes.
“Sometimes it makes it worse when it’s right there,” Roethlisberger said. “If you get blown out it doesn’t seem to hurt as bad as when you have a chance.”
Roethlisberger missed the first four drives of the second half before returning to drive the Steelers to the go-ahead score on a 1-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster before once again ending up on the losing end in a trip to Oakland. He is 0-4 at the Coliseum and the Raiders remain the only AFC opponent he has never beaten on the road.
Pittsburgh went scoreless on four drives with backup Joshua Dobbs.
“(Roethlisberger) probably could’ve come in a series or so sooner, but we were in a rhythm and flow of the game,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “He was ready to go when he got back out there.
Roethlisberger finished 25 for 29 for 282 yards and two TDs, but the Steelers failed to open up ground on Baltimore in the AFC North. Pittsburgh has a half-game lead over the Ravens.
He also threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster with 10 seconds remaining in the first half. Smith-Schuster deflected the high pass to himself and deftly managed to get both feet down with a toe tap in the back of the end zone.
The play was ruled incomplete on the field, but was overturned on replay to the delight of the thousands of yellow-towel waving Steelers fans who filled the Coliseum.
But it was the Raiders fans who cheered at the end after Boswell’s missed kick that came after the Steelers got in position thanks to the short pass to James Washington, who lateraled to Smith-Schuster, who raced 43 yards to the 22.
Boswell has now missed six field goals and five extra points, with his 11 missed kicks ranking worst in the NFL.
“It’s terrible, what else do you want me to say,” Boswell said.
Pittsburgh got little from its running game with James Conner sidelined by an ankle injury. They gained 40 yards on 19 carries with Stevan Ridley scoring on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.
FUMBLE OR NOT
The Raiders found themselves on the wrong end of replay reviews during an odd sequence late in the third quarter. With Oakland at the Pittsburgh 22, Carr lost the ball just before trying to throw it for a fumble that was recovered by Pittsburgh upheld on replay. Just a few plays later, Dobbs was hit by Arden Key as he tried to throw and the ball came loose. Oakland recovered that, but officials ruled it an incomplete pass and the call stood after a challenge by the Raiders. It turned out not to matter much when Tahir Whitehead intercepted Dobbs on the next play.
The Raiders got a rare sack in the second quarter when Clinton McDonald brought down Roethlisberger on a third down. That was the league-low 11th sack of the season for Oakland. The play proved pivotal when Boswell missed a 39-yard field goal on the following play for his first miss inside of 40 yards this season.
The Raiders again got off to a fast start on offense with a 1-yard TD run by Doug Martin on the opening drive. That gave Oakland 41 points on the first drive this season, fourth best in the league.
The Raiders committed three facemask penalties in a span of 13 plays in the second quarter. Before the infractions from Tahir Whitehead, Johnathan Hankins and Erik Harris, Oakland hadn’t been penalized for a facemask all season.
Steelers: Host Patriots on Sunday.
Raiders: Visit Bengals on Sunday.