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Black & Gold Time Capsule: History of the Steelers vs. Raiders ahead of Week 3

A review of notable matchups between two iconic franchises and a look ahead to Week 3.

General view of the statue of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris (32) at the Pittsburgh International Airport to commemorate the immaculate reception against the Oakland Raiders in the 1972 AFC Divisional playoff game. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After evening up the record at 1-1 thanks to some outstanding defensive plays against the Browns on Monday night the Steelers now travel to Las Vegas— not Oakland, not Los Angeles, not Oakland again—to face the Raiders. The chance for both teams to get on the right side of .500 takes place next to the Vegas Strip in Allegiant Stadium on Sunday at 8:20 p.m. ET.

Steelers vs. Raiders matchup history

Steelers fan probably don’t have warm and fuzzy thoughts when they think of the Raiders. The fact is, they are one of only two AFC teams (Denver Broncos being the other) that own a winning record (17-14) against the Black and Gold. Let’s look at a few of those games.

Any card-carrying Steeler fan knows that in 1972 a young Franco Harris rumbled into the End Zone after catching the Immaculate Reception to give the franchise its first-ever playoff win. Not many realize that it was the start of a five-year run of meeting the Raiders every postseason, with three of those meetings in the AFC Championship.

A rivalry was born and hatred came with it. These games were intense, physical, and brutal. According to Chuck Noll, they were also partly “criminal”. Noll claimed DB George Atkinson was a “criminal element who should be kicked out of the league” after the 1976 season opener when, away from the play, Atkinson blindsided Steelers WR Lynn Swann with a forearm to the back of the neck giving Swann a concussion. Atkinson had also knocked Swann unconscious just 8 months earlier in the 1975 AFC Championship. Atkinson would sue Noll and the Steelers for defamation of character. The case would go to a jury trial in San Francisco and Noll and the Steelers were found not guilty.

The most recent meeting took place last December when Kenny Pickett hooked up with George Pickens for a last-minute touchdown to come from behind in a 13-10 victory. Prior to the TD drive the two teams spent 57 mind-numbing minutes to combine for a measly 454 yards of offense. Benny Snell returned a kickoff for 15 yards at one point. Did I mention it was mind-numbing?

Raiders Changes for 2023

The first chunk of the Raider offseason news was letting Derek Carr leave in free agency and signing Jimmy Garoppolo as their new quarterback. Still adjusting to his new quarterback, WR Davante Adams is off to a decent (yet below his All-Pro standard) start to the 2023 season. The second big chunk of news was RB Josh Jacobs holding out for a new contract and missing all of training camp and preseason. An All-Pro last year, Jacobs is off to a very slow start with just 46 total rushing yards gained on 28 carries through two games.

The Raiders used their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on EDGE Tyree Wilson to pair with Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby. Wilson has played 50% of the defensive snaps and registered just three tackles so far. TE Michael Mayer was their second-round pick and he is off to a slow start as well, catching just one pass for two yards while playing around 45% of the offensive snaps.

Family Ties: Steelers-Raider connections

  • Former Steeler LB Robert Spillane leads the list of recent players to wear both helmets. Spillane has played 100 percent of defensive snaps over two games and has 21 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss.
  • The Steelers got several useful seasons as a Gunner from former Raider WR Darrius Heyward-Bey.
  • The Raiders got a whopping 19 catches from WR Martavis Bryant as the reward for trading a third-round pick to the Steelers in 2018. The Steelers would move up three spots from that slot to select Mason Rudolph.
  • The Raiders got literally no use from former Steeler WR Antonio Brown. After giving the Steelers a third-round and fifth-round pick in 2019 for Brown, the Raiders released the four-time All-Pro before he ever played a game. Those picks would be used to select Diontae Johnson and Zach Gentry. Perhaps “winning” those trades helps offset the series edge the Raiders have.
  • Lamar Woodley and DB Rod Woodson would both finish their careers with the Raiders after previously starring for the Steelers.

Steelers vs. Raiders in a new city. Let’s resume the hate!