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Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Foster Moreau (87) catches a touchdown pass from quarterback Derek Carr with Pittsburgh Steelers middle linebacker Joe Schobert (93) defending during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021.

Updated Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 | 1:12 p.m.

Pittsburgh — 

The defense produced immediately. The offense took a while.

But ultimately, both sides of the ball clicked simultaneously to give the Raiders a 26-17 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Las Vegas has officially opened the season with back-to-back upsets to start the season 2-0 for the second consecutive year.

The Raiders gave up a few big plays to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Raiders struck with the biggest play on a 3rd-and-10 early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Derek Carr stood in the pocket, absorbed some pressure and heaved a deep ball towards second-year receiver Henry Ruggs, who used his speed to track it down and ran it on for a 61-yard touchdown. Ruggs’ first touchdown the year made the score 23-14.

It culminated somewhat of a comeback story for Carr, who had gone down with an apparent ankle injury after his previous touchdown pass — a 10-yarder to Foster Moreau in the third quarter. The Raiders’ entire team huddled around Carr near the end zone before he was eventually able to shake off the injury and walk himself to the sidelines.

He came in for the Raiders’ next possession, but the offense wasn’t able to score and Pittsburgh took advantage. With cornerback Trayvon Mullen, who had an interception earlier in the game, in the locker room nursing an injury, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger picked on backup Damon Arnette with a 52-yard completion to Chase Claypool.

A few plays later, rookie running back Najee Harris took a Roethlisberger pass 25 yards for a touchdown to make the score 16-14.

The Ruggs touchdown came less than two minutes later, right as the crowd of more than 60,000 rose to their feet and started to believe in the Steelers’ comeback bid. Pittsburgh only led briefly all day, when they went up 7-6 on a JuJu Smith-Schuster end-around midway through the second quarter.

Las Vegas controlled much of the first half through field goals by Daniel Carlson, who hit three through the uprights — from 46, 41 and 33 yards. Carlson also added a 45-yarder late.

Las Vegas struggled to run the ball without Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs, but it didn’t matter with how efficient Carr played.

The veteran quarterback went 28-for-37 on passing attempts for 382 yards and two touchdowns. Three other Raiders have five catches in addition to Ruggs — tight end Darren Waller (65 yards), Hunter Renfrow (57) and Kenyan Drake (46).  

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A 56-yard field goal from Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell just snuck in at Heinz Field to make things interesting with 3:46 left in the game.

The Raiders still lead the Steelers 23-17. Las Vegas’ defense, led by multiple stops by Solomon Thomas and Denzel Perryman, kept the Pittsburgh from fully marching down the field in its latest drive but couldn’t keep them totally out of field goal range.

With a touchdown now potentially winning the game, the Raiders’ offense will need to run clock on their next drive. That could be difficult with the lack of a run game, which has produced only 31 yards on 20 carries today.

Raiders score touchdown on long pass from Carr to Ruggs

The deep ball to Henry Ruggs lives.

Quarterback Derek Carr just hit the second-year receiver with a 61-yard touchdown pass to put the Raiders up 23-14 on the Steelers with 9:35 to play. It’s been a big day for Ruggs, who’s now hauled in a total of five catches for 113 yards.

Carr is up to 357 passing yards while completing 27 of 36 pass attempts. Las Vegas hasn’t been able to run the ball on Pittsburgh, but it hasn’t matter with the way their passing game is operating.

Now it’s time to find out if they’ve done enough to hold onto the lead.

The deep ball to Henry Ruggs lives.

Quarterback Derek Carr just hit the second-year receiver with a 61-yard touchdown pass to put the Raiders up 23-14 on the Steelers with 9:35 to play. It’s been a big day for Ruggs, who’s now hauled in a total of five catches for 113 yards.

Carr is up to 357 passing yards while completing 27 of 36 pass attempts. Las Vegas hasn’t been able to run the ball on Pittsburgh, but it hasn’t matter with the way their passing game is operating.

Now it’s time to find out if they’ve done enough to hold onto the lead.

Steelers cut down Raiders’ lead

Maxx Crosby said last week that the Raiders never make it easy on themselves, and sure enough, they’re living up to that billing in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers just scored their second touchdown of the game, on a 25-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Najee Harris to cut the Raiders’ lead to 16-14 with 11:15 left to play.

Roethlisberger also completed a 52-yard pass to initially Chase Claypool to get the Steelers into scoring territory. Pittsburgh hasn’t mustered much offense aside from a handful of long pass plays today, but that’s enough to make it anyone’s game in the fourth quarter.

Harris, the rookie out of Alabama, now has 72 combined rushing and receiving yards. Claypool and Diontae Johnson each have more than 70 yards receiving yards for the Steelers.

Carr returned from an ankle injury that looked potentially serious last drive, but Cameron Heyward broke up a third-down conversion attempt to get Pittsburgh the ball back.

Las Vegas finally finds the end zone

The Raiders have taken control with a 16-7 lead in Pittsburgh off of their second drive of the second half, but it may have come at the expense of their quarterback.

Derek Carr went down after a 9-yard touchdown pass to Foster Moreau that capped a 7-play, 82-yard scoring drive. Carr eventually walked off the field on his own but only after his teammates huddled around him on the field.

The possession was the best the quarterback had looked all day as he completed all five pass attempts — and to four different receivers. Hunter Renfrow dove stretched out for a 23-yard completion early in the drive to convert a third-down and set the pace.

Carr is 19-for-25 passing on the day for 231 yards and a touchdown. He’s currently throwing on the sidelines, so he’ll likely return to the game.

Raiders take lead into halftime

The Raiders lead the Steelers 9-7 at halftime, but the advantage feels hollow.

All of their points have come from kicker Daniel Carlson. While Las Vegas wasn’t all that close to scoring touchdowns on the first two scoring drives, the latest featured a touchdown wiped off the board.

Bryan Edwards caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr in the back of the end zone, but it was taken away when right tackle Alex Leatherwood was called for holding.

It was another rough half from the Raiders’ latest first-round draft choice, as Leatherwood drew one other penalty and was soundly beaten while Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt was in the game. Watt exited with a quad injury, however, and is questionable to return.

Carlson’s field goals came from 46, 41 and 33 yards out. Carr has completed 12 of 15 passes for 119 yards while the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger has gone 12-for-17 passing for 122 yards.

Steelers lead 7-6 with 6:25 to play in second quarter

It took the Steelers about three minutes of game time and seven plays to erase the Raiders’ second-quarter lead.

JuJu Smith-Schuster scored on a 3-yard end-around for the first touchdown of the game. Ben Roethlisberger seemed to get on track during the short drive, completing a pair of passes to Diontae Johnson including a 41-yarder where the third-year receiver beat Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen down the sideline.

The Raiders’ defense has played well overall, but the offense has averaged less than 4 yards per play and will need to improve to keep up with the Steelers if the home team has indeed found something on offense.

Raiders go up 6-0 early in the second quarter

Daniel Carlson is 2-for-2. The Raiders are up 6-0.

Carlson added a 33-yard field goal to his earlier 46-yarder to build to the Raiders’ lead. Las Vegas had two big plays on its latest drive, but only one was its own doing.

Quarterback Derek Carr found Hunter Renfrow near the line of scrimmage and the third-year receiver went for a 23-yard gain to get the Raiders into the red zone. Their biggest move down the field came when Robert Spillance was called for a personal foul after targeting Carr when he took off running out of the pocket.

With neither Pittsburgh nor Las Vegas having cracked 100 yards, it’s a defensive struggle at Heinz Field.

Raiders lead Steelers 3-0 with 3:10 to play in first quarter

An interception allowed the Raiders to score the first points of the game at Heinz Field.

Las Vegas collapsed Pittsburgh’s pocket on its second possession of the day and forced Ben Roethlisberger to float a pass down the field that cornerback Trayvon Mullen was able to get under and pick off. The resulting offensive drive wasn’t pretty, as quarterback Derek Carr fumbled twice — the first because of a hit from T.J. Watt and the second from mishandling a snap.

The Raiders gained only one yard, but that was more than enough for Daniel Carlson to knock through a 46-yard field goal.

No surprises on Raiders’ inactive list

Defensive end Clelin Ferrell will make his season debut this morning at Heinz Field.

The former No. 4 overall draft pick was a surprise inactive before the Raiders’ win over the Ravens on Monday Night Football. He was reported to be a healthy scratch, according to NFL Network, but coach Jon Gruden said his absence was partially because of back issues that had kept him out of practice.

Either way, he’ll be available today and expected to play a backup role as an edge rusher. There were no surprise inactives for the Raiders ahead of Week 2 with the list including known injured players like running back Josh Jacobs, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski and guard Richie Incognito.

Running back Trey Ragas and linebacker Marquel Lee have been brought up from the practice squad for depth purposes because of the injuries. The Steelers are comparatively healthier, though their inactives include notables in cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Devin Bush.


• Who: Raiders (1-0) at Steelers (1-0)

• When: 10 a.m.

• Where: Heinz Field

• TV: CBS Channel 8

• Radio: Raider Nation Radio 920 AM, KOMP 92.3

• Betting line: Steelers -6, over/under: 47

A classic NFL rivalry is restored when the Raiders travel to take on the Steelers — and the game may even have a throwback feel heavy on defense and rushing offense, or at least more of one than anticipated. The current over/under total of 47 points is the smallest line in a Raiders’ game since 2019. Pittsburgh was tabbed to have one of the NFL’s best defenses for the second year in a row and lived up to the expectation in a 23-17 Week 1 upset of the Buffalo Bills. Las Vegas, meanwhile, gave up more yards and points in a 33-27 overtime win over Baltimore but came up with several key stops and other big plays in its debut under defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Neither Pittsburgh nor Las Vegas ran the ball as much or as well as they hoped in Week 1, but both sides have been vocal about wanting to be run-first teams. The Steelers took Alabama running back Najee Harris in the first round of April’s NFL Draft, while the Raiders turn to Kenyan Drake and Peyton Barber to fill in for the injured Josh Jacobs.

Favorable matchup: Raiders’ defensive front vs. Steelers’ offensive line

The Steelers’ offensive line ranked dead-last in the NFL last year with 2.60 adjusted average line yards, according to Football Outsiders. The Raiders’ defensive front led the NFL in Week 1 with a 54.5% pressure rate, according to NFL NextGen Stats. Pittsburgh did rebuild its offensive front in the offseason, but it will take time to jell, and the unit continued to struggle in Week 1 with Harris gaining only 45 yards on 16 carries. On paper, Pittsburgh’s line is worse than the Baltimore one Las Vegas just tore apart. Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for racking up two sacks and five quarterback hits against the Ravens. It’s a high bar, but he may need to maintain the pace against the Steelers with fellow starter Yannick Ngakoue nursing a hamstring injury and considered questionable to play.

Problematic matchup: Steelers’ defensive front vs. Raiders’ offensive line

“He is the best player I’ve ever coached, so I’m going to continue to look for him. He is a hell of a player, and he deserves some good looks.” -Coach Jon Gruden on Darren Waller’s big season-opening workload


“That ball touched the ground.” -Quarterback Derek Carr on the Immaculate Reception, repeating a common criticism among Raiders’ fans that the Steelers’ famous game-winning touchdown in the 1972-1973 NFL Playoffs shouldn’t have counted.


“He’s our green beret. He just does everything. He’s a special squad guy that kind of keeps the group together….He’s a really important player to what we’re trying to do on offense, maybe the most important player.” -Offensive coordinator Greg Olson on tight end Foster Moreau, who didn’t catch a pass against the Ravens but was one of the Raiders’ best blockers


“It’s unusual not to click in an offensive line room because we’re all big guys who take hits for a living so the guy behind us can look pretty and throw the ball.” -New starting guard Jermaine Eluemunor, whom the Raiders signed off the Jaguars’ practice squad less than two weeks ago, on his quick adjustment to his new team=

Edge rusher T.J. Watt, last year’s runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year voting, gets most of the credit but the Steelers can overwhelm at every position up front. That’s problematic for Las Vegas, which will likely be without both of its starting guards. Denzelle Good is out for the year with a knee injury, while a calf issue has sidelined Richie Incognito for more than a month. Center Andre James and rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood both had rough debuts and will need to show progress against the likes of Melvin Ingram, Cameron Heyward and Tyson Alualu next to Watt. The Ravens sacked quarterback Derek Carr three times last week, and based on last year’s rates, the Steelers would be expected to get to him even more often. Pittsburgh led the NFL with a sacks on 9.09% of plays in 2020.

Gamebreaker: Defensive end Maxx Crosby

It might be an obvious choice, but it’s an obvious choice for good reason. The organization spent the summer hyping up Crosby as ready to reach star status in his third season, and he more than delivered in his first game. Crosby played all but six snaps against the Ravens — the highest total of any player in the Raiders’ front seven defensively – and put up a team-high 93 Pro Football Focus grade. Bradley has consistently said the key to turning around the Raiders’ defense is generating more pressure, and it looks like that effort will start with Crosby each week. He’s receiving effusive praise from all around the league but vowed not to let it go to his head. “I’ve already flushed the game. It’s a week-by-week basis, a week-by-week league. You never know how things are going to turn out so you have to stay locked in,” Crosby said after a practice preparing for Pittsburgh.

Big Number: 1.

That’s where tight end Darren Waller’s 19 targets against the Ravens ranked through Week 1 in the NFL. Waller ended up catching 10 of them for 105 yards and a touchdown despite a relative off night that included two drops. The smart bet is that Waller’s volume will eventually decrease, but don’t expect it to drop drastically. Carr freely admits he’d love to pass to Waller every play if it’s feasible. This week presents an interesting challenge. Pittsburgh limited tight ends extremely well a year ago, often sticking physical top cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick on ones like Waller who are heavily involved in passing games. The 19 targets were a career high for Waller, but not by all that much considering he drew double-digit passes in his direction in seven of 16 games a year ago.

Best Bet (1-0 on the season): Hunter Renfrow under 42.5 receiving yards

The third-year slot receiver out of Clemson had a terrific game against Baltimore, hauling in six receptions for 70 yards. The Raiders believe he may have frustrated the Ravens so much that he was the recipient of a series of dirty hits as the front office filed a complaint over the matter to the NFL . But the Ravens tend to more liberally give up the type of underneath and intermediate routes Renfrow predominantly runs; the Steelers don’t. Renfrow averaged 41 receiving yards per game a year ago, and there’s no indication his target share will be any higher this season. Even if Carr does start throwing to him more often, he shouldn’t be expected to have this big of a game against a team more set up to stop him.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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