The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 14 reeling. After back-to-back losses to the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers, their playoff, and division, standings were hanging in the balance. On paper, it seemed as if the 2-10 Oakland Raiders would be the perfect medicine for what ails the Steelers.
However, the game isn’t played on paper.
After winning the coin toss, the Steelers elected to defer their possession to the start of the second half, giving Jon Gruden’s group first possession to start the game. It didn’t take long for Derek Carr to move the team down the field, and this was due to tight end Jared Cook. The Raiders ran on first down, and then two passes to Cook moved Oakland into the red-zone. A few Doug Martin goal line carries equated in the Raiders touchdown on the opening drive of the game.
The Steelers’ first possession saw them already trailing 7-0, and were able to must just one first down before punting the ball back to Oakland. The Raiders’ first punt of the game set up Pittsburgh at the 33-yard line for their second possession. Ben Roethlisberger was able to connect with multiple threats on third down to move the offense to the two-yard line in the early portion of the second quarter. The next play saw Stevan Ridley dive into the endzone for the touchdown. Chris Boswell’s extra point was good, tying the game at 7-7.
Oakland’s next possession continued to emphasize none other than Jared Cook, but he wasn’t beating linebackers, but safety Morgan Burnett this time. Cook’s impressive day continued, but the Raiders were forced to settle for a Daniel Carlson field goal, making the score 10-7.
With 8:04 left in the half, Pittsburgh was given 30 yards as a gift in the form of two 15-yard facemask penalties, but when they got to the red-zone were forced to settle for a Chris Boswell field goal attempt. The kick wasn’t even close, and sailed wide right, keeping the score 10-7 with 4:29 left in the second quarter.
A defensive stop gave the Steelers the football back with 2:54 left in the half, and Roethlisberger moved the ball with ease, often to Vance McDonald, into the red-zone. Facing a 3rd and goal situation from the one yard line, Roethlisberger’s pass intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster looked like it was too high, but upon review it showed the second year stud got two feet down with possession.
TOE TAP— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 9, 2018
YEAR @TeamJuJu x #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/Tl07it8ZZs
Boswell banked in the point-after off the right upright to give the Steelers their first lead of the game, 14-10 heading into halftime.
The Steelers received the football to start the second half, and it wasn’t Ben Roethlisberger under center for the black-and-gold, but Joshua Dobbs. The team’s franchise quarterback was being treated in the locker room for and apparent rib injury, and Dobbs was unable to lead the team to points on his first drive.
After the Steelers had a failed fourth down conversion, Carr went back to work and moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory with ease; however, once the Raiders hit the red-zone the Oakland’s drive ended with a Derek Carr fumble, which was recovered by Mike Hilton. Just when the Pittsburgh faithful thought they had caught a huge break, Dobbs had back-to-back questionable calls which could have been turnovers. The first was ruled an incompletion, while the next pass was bobbled by Antonio Brown and intercepted. But Oakland was unable to put up points off of the turnover, instead punting the ball back to the Steelers with 14:40 left in the fourth quarter.
After a series of punts, Oakland was the next to strike as Derek Carr orchestrated an impressive drive capped off by a goal line pass to Lee Smith to give the Raiders a 17-14 lead with 5:20 left in regulation.
With the team trailing for the first time since the first quarter, Ben Roethlisberger re-entered the game in hopes of winning the game for the Steelers. What fans witnessed was some Roethlisberger magic as No. 7 completed every pass thrown as the team drove down the field and cap it off with Smith-Schuster’s second touchdown of the game.
.@TeamJuJu puts us back on top. pic.twitter.com/qV4WWGBRai— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 10, 2018
Boswell’s point-after made the score 21-17 with 2:55 left in the game.
Oakland wasn’t about to lay down and die, and Carr moved the offense down the field and threw a touchdown to Derek Carrier with 25 seconds remaining in the game. After the point-after, the Raiders led 24-21.
With one timeout, the Steelers needed a field goal to send the game to overtime, and a hook and ladder play to JuJu Smith-Schuster got the team in field goal position. Chris Boswell slipped on the 40-yard try, giving the Raiders the win.
The Steelers’ loss moves their record to 7-5-1, their third straight loss, as they now prepare for the New England Patriots to come to Heinz Field for a huge Week 15 matchup. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the black-and-gold.