Pretty much anytime the Raiders and Steelers face off, you can count on a wild ride, and today’s game was no exception. Things started off promisingly, with the Raiders scoring just a few minutes into the game, thanks to a big run by Latavius Murray, followed by a fantastic throw and catch from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree, who is proving to be the best free-agency pickup Oakland has had in years.
Again, in talking about getting breaks and taking advantage of them, the Raiders showed the distinction there, as they got a couple of important breaks (knocking Ben Roethlisberger out of the game, recovering a punt-return fumble by Antonio Brown at midfield) in the fourth quarter, but failed to take advantage of those opportunities. Poor ball security and a complete inability to cover Brown led to a team record day for Brown, and nearly 600 yards of offense for Pittsburgh, who desperately needed this game to remain in contention (as did Oakland).
The positives are that the offense continues to shine, and the entire team plays hard for the full 60 minutes. Even after falling behind by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the offense was resilient in getting them caught back up and evening the score before Pittsburgh’s final game-winning drive. The secondary is seriously banged up, but should improve with the return of Nate Allen within the next few weeks, and there are only a few teams with .500 or higher records left on the schedule.
Most of the AFC is terrible, which opens up realistic wild-card opportunities even at mid-season for teams like Oakland and Pittsburgh, who are neck-and-neck in the hunt. So this game will definitely haunt the Raiders down the road this season as a tiebreaker. But in the longer-term quest for legitimacy and turning the proverbial corner, even a close loss like this one showed that the Raiders’ stock is continuing to rise.