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Steelers fall to Raiders, 24-21

The Steelers fought until the end, but this one slipped away from them, losing to the Raiders, 24-21.

It’s the team’s third straight loss, but they still hold on to first place in the AFC North, with the Ravens losing earlier in the day to the Chiefs.

Ben Roethlisberger missed much of the second half with a rib injury, but with the offense not moving the ball with Joshua Dobbs in there, he came back with 5:20 to play in the game. Roethlisberger drove the offense to a go-ahead touchdown and 21-17 lead, but the lead would be short lived as the Raiders came right back, regaining the lead, 24-21.

With 15 seconds to play Roethlisberger took over again, and a short completion to James Washington and lateral to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who took it 43 more yards to the Raiders 22-yard line, gave them a chance to tie it. Chris Boswell would have sent it into overtime, but he slipped on his 40-yard field goal attempt and the kick was no good, Boswell’s second miss of the day.

“Tough outcome,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “It’s nothing mystical. It’s not something that happened to us. It’s something we created. We take responsibility for that. We didn’t make enough plays to win the game. We need to make plays. Not only at the end of the game, just throughout the game. Not making enough significant plays. Not taking enough advantage of opportunities. We have to look at all aspects of what we are doing in an effort to rectify that. Not only what we’re doing, what we’re asking those guys to do, the quality in which we are doing it. All of the above. It’s as simple as that. We have to catch balls we have an opportunity to catch. We have to sustain blocks longer. We have to tackle better. We have to make kicks. Just good fundamental things. We’re not doing it. We’re going to continue to work. We are going to absorb the negativity that comes with our current position. We understand that. We created it. It’s our job to fix it.”

Roethlisberger, despite missing more than a quarter and a half, completed 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Dobbs completed four of nine passes for 24 yards and one interception. Smith-Schuster had eight receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns. The ground game, which was missing James Conner who was inactive with a sprained ankle, struggled and managed just 40 yards. Jaylen Samuels had 11 carries for 28 yards but was strong in the passing game with seven receptions for 64 yards.

The Raiders came out strong on the opening drive, marching down the field on an eight-play, 74-yard drive. Derek Carr completed three-of-three passes for 58 yards, with Jared Cook pulling in two receptions for 49 yards, including a 30-yarder. Doug Martin had five carries on the drive for 16 yards and dove over the pile for a one-yard touchdown to give the Raiders an early, 7-0, lead.

After both teams exchanged possessions without much luck, the Steelers offense got clicking. Roethlisberger hit Jesse James for 22-yards, and Samuels caught a six-yard screen pass, while James Washington had a six-yard grab. Samuels added a five-yard catch, and Vance McDonald pulled in an eight yarder. Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown for 12-yards to the two-yard line on a key third-and-eight play. Stevan Ridley took it into the end zone for the two-yard touchdown, tying the game, 7-7, at the start of the second quarter.

A couple of big catches got the Raiders going on the ensuing drive. Carr connected with Jordy Nelson for 13 yards, and hit Cook twice, both for 12 yards. Jalen Richard took it up the middle for eight yards, but the defense stopped them there. Daniel Carlson got the Raiders back on top, hitting on a 44-yard field goal to go ahead, 10-7.

The Steelers lost an opportunity to tie the game on their next drive when Chris Boswell’s 39-yard field goal sailed wide right. The Steelers were in position for the field goal after the Raiders were called for two 15-yard facemask penalties. The drive stalled when Roethlisberger was sacked for a loss of six yards on third-and-eight.

A big stop by the defense gave the Steelers the ball back with 2:57 to play and the ball at their own 47-yard line after a facemask call on the punt yielded a 15-yard penalty. Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster for 20 yards and McDonald for 19 yards. McDonald took it to the two-yard line on a 10-yard grab. Roethlisberger hit Ryan Switzer, who lost his footing and went down at the one-yard line. On third-and-one, Roethlisberger went to Smith-Schuster at the end line, and it was ruled out of bounds. After review, Smith-Schuster did his best Tony Toe Tap, keeping his feet in bounds and extending his body to pull in the catch, taking a 14-10 lead into the half.

The Steelers came out to start the second half with Dobbs under center and Roethlisberger in the locker room with the rib injury. Dobbs was 0-for-2 in his first series, with a five-yard run, with a 15-yard personal foul penalty tacked on. The drive stalled at midfield, and the Steelers had to punt.

The defense wasn’t giving anything on the Raiders next drive. Bud Dupree sacked Carr for a seven-yard loss, and Stephon Tuitt and T.J. Watt held Martin to a two-yard gain. On third-and-25 Carr went to Cook, but he was stopped well short of the first down. 

Dobbs came out for his second drive, connecting right off the bat with Smith-Schuster for 12 yards. A six-yard completion to Samuels, and two short gains, gave the Steelers fourth-and-one at the Oakland 42-yard line. The Steelers went for it, but Dobbs completion to McDonald was for no gain, turning the ball over on downs.

The defense came up big on the next drive. The Raiders were moving the ball down the field when Carr fumbled, and Mike Hilton was on top of it, recovering and giving the Steelers the ball at the 16-yard line.

Just as quick as the Steelers got the takeaway, the Raiders got it right back. Tahir Whitehead got the rebound off a pass intended for Antonio Brown, intercepting it at the Steelers 45-yard line.

The Raiders wouldn’t lose the opportunity. Carr took them on a 14-play, 73-yard drive with completions to Marcell Ateman and Nelson the highlights. Carr capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Lee Smith, going back on top, 17-14.

With his team down, Roethlisberger couldn’t remain on the sidelines any longer. He returned and went right to work. Roethlisberger hit Brown for 13 yards, Samuels for 13 and 23, and Smith-Schuster for 12. Smith-Schuster took it to the one-yard line, and then in traffic grabbed the one-yard touchdown, reclaiming the lead, 21-17.

There was no quit in the Raiders though. Carr hit Richard for five yards and Cook for 14 yards before the two-minute warning. Carr went deep to Roberts for 39 yards to the seven-yard line. Carr gave the Raiders the lead when he hit Derek Carrier for a six-yard touchdown, going ahead, 24-21.

The Steelers had one last shot, and it looked like they were going to pull it out. Roethlisberger hit Washington for five yards, and he lateraled it to Smith-Schuster, who went 43 yards to the Raiders 22-yard line. Boswell came out for a 40-yard field goal attempt, but lost his footing, slipped, and it was no good.

A detailed look at how they scored:

First Quarter: Steelers 0, Raiders 7
Scoring Play: Doug Martin one-yard touchdown run.
Scoring Summary: 8-74-4:16

Second Quarter: Steelers 7, Raiders 7
Scoring Play: Stevan Ridley two-yard touchdown run.
Scoring Summary: 11-67-6:30

Second Quarter: Steelers 7, Raiders 10
Scoring Play: Daniel Carlson 44-yard field goal. 
Scoring Summary: 10-46-4:14

Second Quarter: Steelers 14, Raiders 10
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger one-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Scoring Summary: 9-53-2:47

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 14, Raiders 17
Scoring Play: Derek Carr two-yard touchdown pass to Lee Smith.
Scoring Summary: 14-73-7:50

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 21, Raiders 17
Scoring Play: Ben Roethlisberger one-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Scoring Summary: 6-75-2:25

Fourth Quarter: Steelers 21, Raiders 24
Scoring Play: Derek Carr six-yard touchdown pass to Derek Carrier.
Scoring Summary: 8-75-2:34

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