The Pittsburgh Steelers trip to the west coast turned into a disastrous vacation as they were defeated 24-21 by the 3-10 Oakland Raiders. The Steelers looked to bounce back from a late Raiders’ touchdown with their own Ben Roethlisberger heroics but ultimately, it was not enough as they crumbled late, allowing 6-yard touchdown pass to Derek Carrier with 20 seconds remaining.
Roethlisberger exited with a rib injury at half time and returned to find the Steelers trailing 17-14 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Ben’s injury left the Steelers unable to build onto their lead and though Roethlisberger was able to add a late touchdown, a comeback by Derek Carr gave the Raiders the win. Carr finished with 322 yards passing with two touchdowns to no interceptions as he dissected the Steelers all afternoon.
A hook and ladder gave the Steelers one last chance for a 39-yard field goal but kicker Chris Boswell slipped and the kick was blocked. In a field that average at best all day, the field played a deciding factor. It was Boswell’s second miss of the day and perhaps the most crucial of the season.
It seemed the Raiders did their homework and would attack the Steelers defensive miscues like the Chargers did a week prior, targeting linebackers Jon Bostic and L.J. Fort in coverage. Raiders’ quarterback Carr found tight end Jared Cook twice for 49 yards on their opening drive, leading them to a one-yard plunge by Doug Martin to give the silver and black a 7-0 lead.
With James Conner out injured, it would be up to Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley to handle the running back workload. Ridley got the first crack at the end zone, punching it in from two yards out to tie the game at seven. His touchdown was the pinnacle of an 11-play, 67-yard drive that saw the Steelers convert two key third downs. Samuels and Ridley failed to do much against the Raiders, as the Steelers only managed 40 rushing yards.
The Steelers took the lead before halftime but it did not come easy. After driving down to the red zone, Roethlisberger was sacked by Raiders’ defensive lineman Clinton McDonald, only the Raiders’ 11th sack of the season. Roethlisberger suffered a rib injury on the play, though he would stay in the game for another drive. This untimely sequence of events led to Chris Boswell shanking a 39-yard field goal, Boswell’s fifth missed kick of the year. Luckily, the Steelers would get one more shot before the half.
With just ten seconds to go and the ball at the Raiders’ two-yard line, Roethlisberger found JuJu Smith-Schuster at the back of the end zone for seven, though, the play was initially ruled out of bounds. A second look showed that Smith-Schuster was able to drag both his feet as his body carried him out of bounds. An incredible catch by the second-year receiver would give the black and yellow a four-point lead at the break. Smith-Schuster was the most productive Steelers’ receiver, finishing with 8 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
Roethlisberger’s earlier rib injury kept him out to start the second half and Josh Dobbs saw his second portion of significant playing time this season. The play calling with Dobbs in was nothing out of the ordinary, but his first crucial moment came on fourth and short in Oakland territory. Facing a fourth and one, Dobbs ran a bootleg and connected with Vance McDonald but he was tackled short of the sticks.
The Steelers’ defense heard the pleas for a turnover on the next drive, recovering a Derek Carr fumble. No Steelers’ defender was near Carr but the ball just seemingly slipped out of his hand, falling into the grasps of Mike Hilton. Dobbs would return the favor though as after narrowly escaping a strip sack, which was ruled incomplete, the young quarterback would throw an interception on the following play.
Dobbs failed to add any points to the Steelers’ lead and the feeling was that the mighty defense would crack eventually. That crack came with just over five minutes remaining as Carr found Lee Smith for a three-yard touchdown after a 14-play, 73-yard drive that took up almost eight minutes.
It was at this moment, down 17-14 that Roethlisberger would return to the game.
A hero on his white knight, Roethlisberger led a six play, 75-yard drive, throwing his second touchdown pass of the day to Smith-Schuster to give the Steelers the lead once again at 21-17.
A 6-yard touchdown pass to Carrier with 20 seconds remaining would drop the Steelers to 7-5-1 on a day where the Patriots, Texans and Ravens all lost. Roethlisberger continues to be winless in Oakland as another defensive collapse coupled with the quarterback’s own injury were too much to overcome.
Next week the Steelers will welcome the New England Patriots back into Heinz Field for the first time since last season’s infamous “catch” game. Kick off is set for 4:25 p.m. EST.