It was a picturesque Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, PA as the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field in Week 9 of the NFL regular season. Coming into the game, the 4-4 Steelers were favored over the 4-3 Raiders, but both teams were headed in opposite directions. The Raiders were coming off back-to-back wins while the Steelers suffered their first string of losses since 2013.
In a matchup with significant AFC Playoff significance, it was the Steelers who started the game on offense after they won the coin toss and chose to receive the football. The Steelers offensive struggles continued despite a big 33-yard catch and run by DeAngelo Williams. Two big drops by Darrius Heyward-Bey and Martavis Bryant eventually led to a failed 4th down conversion on 4th and 4, which turned the ball over to the Raiders for their first possession of the afternoon.
It took the Raiders just three plays to drive down the field and cash in with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree. It took less than a minute, and was largely aided by a 44-yard run by Latavius Murray prior to the Carr pass to Crabtree. The Sebastian Janikowski extra point gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 12:10 left in the first quarter.
With an attempt to answer the Raiders touchdown, the Steelers did little with their second possession. If there was any positive in the drive, it was a Jordan Berry punt which was pinned inside the Oakland 5-yard line to force the Raiders to have to drive the length of the field on their second drive already with a 7-0 lead, but the Raiders only gained 7 yards and were forced to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh's next drive started at their 41-yard line and was the first time the Steelers went to their no-huddle offense directed by Ben Roethlisberger. A mixture of passes to Antonio Brown and Heath Miller moved the ball into the Oakland red-zone, but after a failed 3rd and 4 conversion, Pittsburgh had to settle for a 34-yard Chris Boswell field goal to make the score 7-3 Raiders with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
The Raiders ensuing drive took up time and was able to flip the field position battle, but resulted in a 40-yard punt by Marquette King. The first play of the Steelers next possession was a 59-yard bomb from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown which moved the football to the Oakland 25-yard line. After back-to-back completions to Brown, it was DeAngelo Williams who punched the ball in from the 4-yard line for the Steelers touchdown. The Steelers decided to go for the two-point conversion, and a Roethlisberger pass to Williams was good, which made the score 11-7 with 13:57 left in the half.
The Raiders next drive was more of the same, as the Raiders were able to move the ball, but after a dropped pass by Amari Cooper and several off-line throws by Carr, the Raiders had to punt the ball back to the Steelers. King's punt was able to pin the Steelers at their own 2-yard line to start their next drive with 10:45 left in the half. A task the Steelers weren't able to overcome as the three-and-out and a Jordan Berry 36-yard punt gave the Raiders their best field position, starting at the Pittsburgh 40-yard line.
It didn't take much for the Raiders to take advantage of their phenomenal field position, and the Raiders Amari Cooper hauled in a Derek Carr pass to complete the 7-play 40-yard drive with a touchdown. The Janikowski extra point gave the Raiders the lead again by the score of 14-11 with 6:05 left in the half. The drive was riddled with breakdowns in the Pittsburgh secondary, as Cooper was left uncovered on the touchdown catch.
The Antonio Brown show continued on the ensuing Pittsburgh drive both through the air, and on the ground. After a 16-yard reverse to Brown, Roethlisberger connected with Brown on a 41-yard pass to move the ball into the Oakland red-zone. With the ball on the 3 yard line, the Steelers went for a 4th and less than a yard and were not only able to convert the first down, but DeAngelo Williams scored his second touchdown of the football game. Chris Boswell's extra point gave the Steelers a 18-14 lead with 1:56 left in the first half.
The Steelers defense stifled the Raiders next drive, forcing a three-and-out and another Marquette King punt. The stop gave the Pittsburgh offense 59 seconds left in the half with no timeouts and started the final drive at their own 41-yard line. A defensive pass interference call against on the first play moved the ball into Oakland territory, but it was the next play when Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown which moved the ball to the 29-yard line. On 3rd and 10, Roethlisberger hit Brown, but Brown came up just a half yard short of the line to gain. Mike Tomlin elected to go for a Boswell 38-yard field goal, which was good giving the Steelers a 21-14 lead with 29 seconds left in the half, and that was the score heading into halftime.
The Raiders received the football to start the second half, but on a 3rd and 13 Ryan Shazier caused a fumble while making the tackle, although Mike Mitchell recovered the ball and ran into the end-zone, but Mitchell was unable to re-establish himself in the field of play, nullifying the turnover, giving the Raiders the ball on fourth down, which resulted in a Marquette King punt.
Bud Dupree was able to knife his way through the line of scrimmage and deflect the punt, giving Ben Roethlisberger and the offense the ball at the Oakland 46-yard line. Pittsburgh was unable to even gain a first down, due to a dropped pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey, which ultimately resulted in another Berry punt with 11:31 left in the third quarter. Derek Carr took the Raiders down the field with ease, and not throwing an incompletion throughout the drive which ended in Carr's third touchdown pass to Clive Walford. The Janikowski extra point tied the game at 21 with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
The Steelers' opportunity to answer was stifled by a false start penalty and a dropped pass on a deep throw to Martavis Bryant. After Bryant's drop, Roethlisberger's next throw was an interception giving the Raiders the ball at the Pittsburgh 32-yard line. Two plays later, on a run to Latavius Murray, resulted in a fumble after a big hit by Mike Mitchell. Pittsburgh recovered the fumble and re-gained possession with 4:56 left in the third quarter.
Behind a nice catch and run by DeAngelo Williams getting the ball into Oakland territory, the Steelers were forced to settle for a 41-yard field goal, and Chris Boswell missed his first kick in the NFL, giving the Raiders the ball back with 2:54 left in the third quarter, and the score still tied 21-21. The hard hitting nature of the game continued, with several big hits by the Steelers defense, which eventually resulted in another Oakland punt with 1:13 left in the quarter. DeAngelo Williams took a run 53 yards on the second play of the drive, moving the ball to the Oakland 35-yard line to end the third quarter.
The balanced Steelers attack moved the ball into the red-zone after another Antonio Brown reception, and two plays later a nifty catch and run by Martavis Bryant took a wide receiver screen into the end-zone for the Steelers touchdown. Boswell's extra point was good and gave Pittsburgh a 28-21 lead with 12:13 left in the 4th quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Steelers rookie Roosevelt Nix forced a fumble on Taiwan Jones which was recovered by the fellow rookie Anthony Chickillo. Two plays later, it was a Roethlisberger pass to Jesse James for his first career touchdown and a Boswell extra point made the score 35-14 with 11:24 left in the game.
The Raiders weren't about to go down easily, and after Boswell kicked the kickoff out of bounds, it took Oakland just a handful of plays to move 60-yards and score a touchdown with a 19-yard touchdown run by Jamize Olawale. The Janikowski extra point cut the Steelers' lead in half at 35-28 with 9:32 left in the final quarter.
The Steelers, needing a long drive to put the game away, relied on their best two offensive players on the day in Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams. A Brown reception and Williams 22-yard run moved the ball into Oakland territory on consecutive plays. The drive would stall, and Jordan Berry punted the ball away, but the Steelers special teams was able to make a tackle on the Oakland 5-yard line. The Steelers' defense was able to force a three-and-out, but on the next King punt Antonio Brown fumbled the football and gave the Raiders amazing field position with a chance to tie the game.
Derek Carr moved the ball into the Pittsburgh red-zone, and when Pittsburgh thought they forced Oakland to settle for a field goal, a low hit on Carr by Ryan Shazier gave the Raiders new life. Two plays later, Carr's pass was intercepted by Ross Cockrell and returned to the 24-yard line.
Landry Jones took over for the Steelers with a chance to close out the victory for the Steelers, but after a false start and offensive pass interference penalty the Steelers called on Jordan Berry to punt the ball back to Oakland with 2:15 left in the game. Derek Carr took over at the Oakland 31-yard line with two timeouts left in the game. Derek Carr moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory with and with 1:21 left in the game Carr hit Michael Crabtree with a 38-yard touchdown. The Janikowski extra point tied the game at 35 with 1:15 left in the game.
The Steelers drive started at the 20-yard line with two timeouts at Landry Jones' disposal. After a critical holding call on Heath Miller during a 20-yard run by DeAngelo Williams, Landry Jones hit Antonio Brown for a huge catch and run to take the ball down into the red-zone. DeAngelo Williams would carry the ball to the 1-yard line for a 19-yard Chris Boswell field goal to give the Steelers a 38-35 win over the Raiders.
The Steelers improved their record to 5-4, while dropping the Raiders' record to 4-4 heading into Week 10 of the NFL regular season. The Steelers will wrap up their three-game home stand in Week 10 when the Cleveland Browns come to Heinz Field before Pittsburgh heads into their bye week.