How the team performed in a 24-21 win against the Steelers.
Winning is all that matters in the NFL, and when that time came Sunday, Derek Carr was at his best. Twice, actually. The quarterback led two fourth-quarter scoring drives for touchdowns, over which he completed 12-of-16 passes for 154 yards and TD strikes to Lee Smith from 3 yards and Derek Carrier from 6. Smith and Carrier aren’t the tight ends most might have thought would shine — Jared Cook is having an All-Pro season and finished with a team-high seven catches for 116 yards — but they did. What has been an injured and depleted offensive front again played hurt for the Raiders, but more than stood up to a Steelers side that leads the league in sacks. Carr was sacked four times, but not once in the fourth quarter. Carr hasn’t thrown an interception in 216 attempts, which spans a franchise record 33 quarters.
It’s not crazy to suggest the final score would have been different had injured Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger not missed the first four possessions of the second half. He returned, led a 70-yard scoring drive in just 2:25 and gave Pittsburgh a 21-17 lead with 2:55 left before Carr spun his own magic. But the Raiders, who entered with a league-low 10 sacks, were able to pressure on the pocket and also got an interception from linebacker Tahir Whitehead, who was terrific with a team-best 10 tackles. Also, no matter who’s throwing the ball for the Steelers, any time you limit wide receiver Antonio Brown to five catches for 35 yards, you’ve done the job.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
A majority of this grade goes to the Coliseum turf, which was its usual pathetic self when Pittsburgh kicker Chris Boswell’s plant leg went slipping and sliding away as he attempted a 40-yard field goal in the final seconds that would have tied the game and sent it to overtime. Daniel Carlson continued his stellar effort for the Raiders, with the rookie hitting his lone field-goal attempt from 44 yards.
A 10-point underdog, the Raiders beat the AFC North leaders with some fine play-calling down the stretch. They also got huge contributions from all three tight ends, causing head coach Jon Gruden to offer praise afterward for position coach Frank Smith: “We had a good Frank Smith. Hopefully he gets some free chicken wings at Hooters or something.”
Ed Graney Review-Journal