The Steelers won the game where they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception game, in what was also the second coldest Steelers home game of all time. While it wasn’t the exact same storyline to the game 50 years ago, the Steelers did take the lead with less than a minute left and won scoring the same number of points, thirteen, as they did in the original.
Kenny Pickett playing in the bitter cold was something to watch, as many have predicted he would struggle in such conditions due to his arm strength and hand size. While Pickett didn’t put up huge numbers, he played well and wasn’t limited in his throws. He orchestrated the game-winning drive, completing 7 of 9 passes for 75 yards and the game winning touchdown. Pickett spread the ball around well, with four different receivers catching at least 5 passes, with no one catching more than 7.
Before this game the Steelers were 0-4 when Kenny Pickett threw more than 30 passes. Pickett threw 39 times in this game and the Steelers won, something Ben Roethlisberger didn’t do until his 40th start after losing the first six games he had to throw more than 30 times.
The Steelers also won their first game of the season when they had a turnover. A big part of both of these firsts is the fact that the Raiders only scored 10 points, and 13 points was enough to win the game.
The Steelers ran the ball 27 times in this game, averaging just under 4 yards a carry. It wasn’t great production, but they gained enough yards to keep running the ball and that helped them control time of possession and keep the offense balanced.
The Steelers offense was not very successful before that final drive, scoring six points on 8 drives with another drive ending with a missed field goal. With the Raiders also failing to do much on offense, the Steelers were able to stay within one score and pull the game out in the end.
Honor Roll: Pat Freiermuth, George Pickens, Connor Heyward
Demerits: Offensive line inconsistency, Kenny Pickett’s terrible interception
Final Grade: C
The Steelers defense played one of their best games of the season, holding the Raiders to 10 points. After the first drive of the game they only gave up 8 first downs and 3 points the rest of the game, while forcing three turnovers. Leading the way for the defense was Cameron Heyward, who was second on the team with 7 tackles and added 2 sacks and a three tackles for a loss. He was constantly driving back the offensive line, and when the Raiders double teamed him he was still winning plays, breaking run plays and batting down passes. It was a stellar effort from the Steelers captain, and it led the team to victory.
The Raiders offense is led by running back Josh Jacobs and receiver Davante Adams. Josh Jacobs ran five times for 26 yards on the opening drive, and for the rest of the game ran ten times, gaining only 18 yards. Davante Adams was targeted nine times in the game, but only caught two of them for a total of 15 yards. Those two players were averaging a combined 224 yards and 1.5 touchdowns a game. The Steelers held them to 59 yards and no scores, with a grand total of 30 yards after the opening drive.
Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller had some success against the Steelers, but their combined 100 yards and 1 touchdown were not enough to overcome the Steelers shutting down the Raiders main two weapons.
Anytime a defense holds a team to 10 points on ten drives it should guarantee a win, and it got the job done this game. Even when the offense squandered multiple short fields, as the Steelers held the Raiders to 30 total yards in the second half and forced 3 turnovers on six drives, the defense kept the score close enough for the offense to win the game with a late touchdown drive. Three different players recorded interceptions for the Steelers as balls were bouncing off Raiders receivers and Cameron Sutton took advantage of an off-target deep ball from Derek Carr.
It was a great overall effort from the defense to lead the way to a key win on a night that was much bigger than a win or loss in the record books.
Honor Roll: Cameron Heyward, also everybody else too.
Demerits: The opening drive.
Final Grade: A
Chris Boswell missed two field goals on a very cold and very windy night. It’s always bad missing out on points, but it’s also one of the worst kicking situations Boswell has probably ever experienced. It wasn’t good for this game, but I don’t see it being a sign of anything other than it sucked to kick in that weather. His kickoffs weren’t good either, on his four kickoffs, the Raiders returned three beyond the 25-yard line.
Punter Pressley Harvin III, on the other hand, had great stats with over 46 yards a punt and one downed inside the 20.
Honor Roll: Pressley Harvin III
Demerits: Chris Boswell, punt return team
Final Grade: C
In emotional games, and in games with extreme weather, you can throw almost everything out but the end result. The Steelers had both going on in this game, and they pulled out a win. Both teams needed this win to keep their ridiculously long playoff odds alive, and the Steelers came out on top and remain in the hunt for at least another day. That’s the bottom line, and for this week, nothing else matters.