Looking for their first win in the 2012 regular season, the Oakland Raiders hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) in a battle between two of the most storied franchises in the NFL. Before the contest began, retired running back Marcus Allen, who holds Raiders all-time records for rush attempts, yards and touchdowns, followed the words said by rapper Ice Cube in his new raider anthem (called “Come and Get It”) and came back home to light the flame in honor of Al Davis, after years of public feud with the legendary owner.
Raiders’ players who did not suit up for the game: QB Terrelle Pryor (“C.D.” – Coaches’ Decision), OTs Khalif Barnes (groin) and Joseph Barksdale (C.D.), G Lucas Nix (C.D.), WR Juron Criner (C.D.), DT Christo Bilukidi (C.D.) and CB Shawntae Spencer (ankle). Notable inactive Steelers’ players : RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee), LB James Harrison (knee) and S Troy Polamalu (calf).
The game began with a Marcel Reece kickoff return to the Raiders 42 yard line. And right on their first play, the Raiders offense turned the ball over, as Carson Palmer overthrew a slipping Denarius Moore, causing a Ryan Clark interception. The raider defense, with Michael Huff starting at cornerback and Matt Giordano taking his place as a free safety, stepped onto the field with bad field position at their own 36 yard line. After 2 incompletions, QB Ben Roethlisberger found WR Jerricho Cotchery in a crossing route for a 9 yard gain. The Steelers decided to go for it on 4th down and an illegal pick on Huff opens up WR Mike Wallace for a first down, putting them inside the redzone. On 3rd&goal, Roethlisberger found TE Heath Miller open in the right corner for a touchdown. Steelers 7 x0 Raiders.
The offense hit the field again trying to find some rhythm. On a 2nd&10, Palmer found his favorite receiver so far, Brandon Myers, for a first down. And on the next play, it finally happened: Darren McFadden hit the big hole created by the OL, made one man miss and took off for a 64 touchdown. Run DMC is back! Steelers 7 x 7 Raiders. The defense started their second drive a bit better, as Phillip Wheeler deflected a pass but on the ensuing 3rd down, Big Ben once again connected with Wallace for a first down. On another 3rd down, for 2, the Raiders gave too much room for WR Emmanuel Sanders who made it after the yellow line again with a quick reception. 3 first down catches later, the Steelers reached a first&goal at the 5 yard line. On 2nd down, Ben found Miller once again up the middle over Tyvon Branch for another TD. Steelers 14 x 7 Raiders.
A drop by Denarius Moore set up a 3rd&13 for the offense, which went for a sack and 3&out. A 60 yard punt by Shane Lechler was returned to the Raiders 48 yard line. After two consecutive penalties by Pittsburgh (a false start and a holding), it was 2nd&25. A wide open WR Antonio Brown was almost able to catch in bounds to wipe out a big chunck of that yardage. A 14 yard pickup on a screen play led to Pittsburgh’s first punt of the day, fair caught by Phillip Adams at the 14 yard line. After 2 short McFadden runs and an incompletion, Lechler punt is returned to the endzone but there’s no TD due to a holding penalty. On a 3rd&9 at Pittsburgh’s 31, Heath Miller appeared to have made an incredible catch for a first down, but after a Dennis Allen’s challenge, the play is reversed to an incomplete pass due to very tight coverage by Wheeler and Branch. A horrible punt puts the Raiders at their 40 yard line with 10:19 to go in the first half.
A short McFadden reception sets up a 3rd&4, but McFadden has nowhere to go in a run for loss on 3rd down. The Steelers began their drive at their own 8 yard line. After conceding 2 first downs, the defense finally stepped up and forced a turnover, the first of the season: Desmond Bryant knocked the ball out of the hands of RB Jonathan Dwyer, recovered by Joselio Hanson at the Steelers 30 yard line. A quick pass to David Ausberry puts the Raiders inside the redzone. A Palmer scramble out of the bootleg sets up a 3rd&3, but Mike Goodson reception is not enough. Choosing to keep the offense on the field for the 4th down, the Raiders draw a neutral zone infraction penalty by Pittsburgh, in a heads up play by Cooper Carlisle who stood up when DE Brett Keisel moved forward before the snap. Right on the ensuing play, it’s another Raiders touchdown, as Palmer finds Darrius Heyward-Bey in the corner of the endzone. Perfect throw, perfect catch. Steelers 14 x 14 Raiders with 1:54 to go in the first half.
Another Miller catch got the Steelers at midfield with a minute left. Roethlisberger, with all the time in the world, finds Emmanuel Sanders over the middle for a big gain. The WR holds on to the ball despite a big hit by Matt Giordano. With 2 seconds left, kicker Shaun Suisham makes the 33 yard FG. At halftime, it’s Steelers 17 x 14 Raiders.
The raider defense began the second half as they ended the first, letting the Steelers complete a 22 yard pass over the middle in a 3rd&15 situation. WR Antonio Brown got them into Raiders territory with a 19 yard catch, following that with a 12 yard reception. On a 3rd&5 at the Raiders 22, Roethlisberger could’ve run for a first down, but instead connected with a completely wide open Mike Wallace in the endzone, due to a Matt Giordano injury. Steelers 24 x 14 Raiders. That was followed by a 48-yard return by Mike Goodson to midfield. McFadden had his second nice run of the game, a 16-yard gain on a draw play. Palmer almost connected with Heyward-Bey deep in the endzone, but the ball went through the hands of DHB. On 3rd down, Palmer found Moore for a new set of plays inside the redzone. 2 short catches by Moore and Rod Streater set up a 3rd&1, converted by McFadden for a 1st&goal. And then McFadden just couldn’t be denied, spinning away from a tackle and extending his arm on second effort for what looked like a TD, but after review, the ball was spotted inches shy of the endzone. DMC didn’t have the same success in the next play, running for a loss of a yard. On 3rd down, Palmer faked the handoff and found Richard Gordon on a crossing route over the endzone line, for the TE’s first career touchdown. Steelers 24 x 21 Raiders with 6:35 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Raiders surprised everyone with a onside kick attempt, and they had a chance of recovering the ball which went through the hands of Mike Goodson, but it ended up going out of bounds, putting the Steelers at the Raiders 48 yard line. A 16 yard catch by Heath Miller got Pittsburgh to the 21 yard line. On a 3rd&8, Miller beat Mike Mitchell right over the first down line. Then Antonio Brown recovered his own fumble forced by Wheeler, after a catch and run, after the Raiders had a good chance of recovering it in the endzone, in a huge missed opportunity. Steelers 31 x 21 Raiders. Carson Palmer started the drive with 3 consecutive first down passes to Moore, DHB and Myers. After a illegal contact on Moore that was not called by the referees, the Raiders faced a 3rd&9 and Rod Streater delivered with a very difficult catch in double coverage to the Steelers 17 yard line. DHB couldn’t come up with the TD grab over the middle after getting hit hard, not being able to stand back up and getting carted off the field. Another missed penalty as Heyward-Bey had to be considered a defenseless receiver on that situation. A play that not only cost yards but most importantly, DHB’s health. On a 3rd&8, Palmer found Reece to set up a 1st&goal. On 2nd down, Palmer evaded a sack and found Moore in the endzone. A beautiful, diving grab by the second-year player. Steelers 31 x 28 Raiders with 12:13 left in the game.
Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for another big gain over midfield, but Pat Lee made an excellent play, stripping the ball out of the WR hands, recovered by Phillip Wheeler. The offense hit the field looking to capitalize on the turnover and reached Steelers territory with a pass interference call on an attempt to Moore. McFadden’s draw run set up a 3rd&2 situation, which went for a short completion to Derek Hagan for a new set of downs. 2 stuffed runs later, it’s 3rd down again, for 8, and Moore’s tunnel screen was 3 yards short. Sebastian Janikowski’s first FG attempt of the day was good from 32 yards away to tie the game. Steelers 31 x 31 Raiders with 6:30 left.
After a holding call, Ben found Wallace for a 17 yard gain after the WR recovered his own fumble (forced by Wheeler). The Raiders then stood strong against the run, stuffing 2 runs to force a 4th&1 situation. The Steelers decided to go for the 4th down and were able to get the new set of downs with a misdirection run up the middle. On the ensuing play, the Raiders finally were able to sack Roethlisberger, courtesy of Richard Seymour. Ben then found Miller for a short gain with Wheeler in tight coverage to prevent any yards after the catch, setting up a 3rd&9 situation from Pittsburgh’s 31 yard line at the 2 minute warning. It went for an incompletion with rookie Miles Burris all over the QB.
The Raiders got the ball at their own 25 yard line with 1:43 to go. 2 incompletions later, Palmer hit Myers over the middle under tight coverage for a first down. 2 short catches by Hagan and Reece later, it was 1st&10 at the Steelers 43 yard line with 0:33 left. Carson Palmer remained cool under the blitz and connected with a crossing Derek Hagan over the middle, who earned some extra yards after the catch before going out of bounds at the 26 yard line with 23 seconds left. The Raiders just spotted the ball for Janikowski to kick it over the grass, instead of the dirt. And then came the kicker, with 4 seconds remaining. The 44 yard FG attempt, to win the game, is… GOOD!!! Janikowski split the uprights to give the Raiders their first win of the season, in a thrilling, come-from-behind victory that gives Dennis Allen his first career win as a head coach and put the Raiders back on track in the AFC West race.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (head/neck) was not able to finish the game.
Carson Palmer finished the game with 23 completions (69.7 completion percentage) for 209 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Darren McFadden ran for 113 yards (6.3 YPC) and 1 TD. Brandon Myers led the receivers in yards with 64. Denarius Moore led in catches with 5, including 1 TD. Darrius Heyward-Bey caught 2 passes for 14 yards and a score. Richard Gordon caught a one yard pass for a TD. Phillip Wheeler led the defense with 8 solo tackles, 2 pass deflections and 1 fumble recovered. Richard Seymour had a sack along 1 solo tackle.
The Raiders will now face the Broncos in Denver on September 30th at 1:05 P.M. (PDT).