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Raiders Top Steelers

Injuries hurt Pittsburgh in 26-17 loss to Las Vegas

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) gets up slowly after being sacked during the first half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

PITTSBURGH — Jon Gruden’s long, arduous multi-state, multi-year rebuilding project may finally be nearing its end.

The swagger might be back for the Las Vegas Raiders. The deep ball certainly is.

Derek Carr threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns, including a pretty 61-yard strike to Henry Ruggs midway through the fourth quarter, as the Raiders toppled Pittsburgh 26-17 on Sunday.

Not bad for a team playing on a short week on the other side of the country without its starting running back and any sort of offensive balance. It didn’t matter, particularly once the Steelers lost star outside linebacker T.J. Watt to a groin injury in the second quarter.

“Honestly, anytime (Watt) is on the field he wrecks everything,” Carr said, later adding, “When he’s out of the game you notice he’s out but that doesn’t mean that we can do this or we can do that. We run our stuff in Las Vegas and have full confidence in our guys.”

It certainly looked like it.

Carr shredded the Pittsburgh secondary in Watt’s absence, completing 16 of 21 for 263 yards in the second half, including a 9-yard flip to Foster Moreau in the third quarter and a rainbow to Ruggs with 9:35 remaining that gave the Las Vegas defense all the cushion it would need.

“You just see this gear that not a lot of human beings have,” Carr said of Ruggs. “It makes it fun for me.”

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 295 yards, including a 25-yard catch-and-run early in the fourth quarter that rookie running back Najee Harris turned into the first touchdown of his career that drew the Steelers within 16-14.

The Raiders (2-0) responded immediately. Facing third-and-10 on Las Vegas’ next possession, Carr had plenty of time to step up and heave it to a streaking Ruggs, who raced past Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ahkello Witherspoon and into the end zone as the Raiders beat the Steelers for the sixth time in their last eight meetings.

“Not many guys can run that fast and track the ball,” Gruden said of Ruggs. “It was certainly a big play. The protection, the revolving door we had up front in the critical moment and the throw … there was a lot of good stuff to go around.”

Ruggs finished with five receptions for 113 yards, one of four Raiders with five grabs as Carr spread it around.

“We’re loaded with playmakers,” Ruggs said. “We have guys ready to step up at any time.”

The Steelers held Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller relatively in check until it mattered. Waller’s 25-yard reception with just over 2 minutes to go set up Daniel Carlson’s fourth field goal that provided the final margin, sending the first full crowd at Heinz Field in nearly 21 months trudging toward the exit.

“I’m not going to say London Bridge is falling down, but we’ve got to grow from this,” Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said. “We’ve got to keep harping on our mistakes and understand how big those (get off) plays are.”

A week after pulling off a stunner in Buffalo in the opener, Pittsburgh got off to another slow start.

This time, there would be no second-half surge.

Harris again found little room to run behind Pittsburgh’s retooled offensive line, managing just 39 yards on 10 carries. The first-round pick added five receptions for 43 yards, including an acrobatic stretch across the goal line for his first touchdown as a pro.

Still, the offense operated in only fits and starts. Roethlisberger completed 27 of 40 passes and absorbed 10 hits and two sacks while playing behind an offensive line featuring two rookies in left tackle Dan Moore Jr. and center Kendrick Green.

“Right now my play is just not good enough,” Roethlisberger said. “If I play better, we have a chance to win the football game.”

The offense’s inability to control the ball forced the Steelers’ suddenly injury-ravaged defense had to be on the field for long stretches. The Raiders held the ball for more than 34 minutes and had 286 of their 425 yards after halftime.

TURNER EJECTED

Steelers veteran right guard Trai Turner was ejected in the fourth quarter following an altercation with the Raiders defensive tackle Solomon Thomas. Video seemed to indicate Turner spit on Thomas, leading to referees to toss him from the rest of the game.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin believes Turner was simply reacting to being spat on.

“Trai is not a young guy,” Tomlin said. “He’s not overly emotional. He’s a flat-liner … I didn’t believe he did enough to be kicked out of the football game. That’s just my opinion.”

INJURIES

Raiders: Rookie LT Alex Leatherwood left in the second quarter with an oblique injury and did not return. … S Dallin Leavitt was evaluated for a concussion. … CB Casey Hayward Jr. dealt with cramps.

Steelers: DT Tyson Alualu left in the first quarter with a fractured right ankle and will be out indefinitely. … WR Diontae Johnson sustained a knee injury on the game’s final play. … CB Joe Haden and LB Devin Bush were inactive due to groin injuries.

UP NEXT

Raiders: Host Miami next Sunday. Las Vegas is 0-2 against the Dolphins since Gruden returned as coach in 2018, including a 26-25 setback last December.

Steelers: Open AFC North play next Sunday when Cincinnati visits Heinz Field. Pittsburgh has won 14 of 16 against the Bengals.

BUCCANEERS 48, FALCONS 25

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and five touchdowns, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Atlanta Falcons 48-25 on Sunday to extend their win streak to a franchise-record 10 consecutive games.

Brady improved to 9-0 lifetime against the Falcons (0-2), who have dropped seven in a row going back to last season, with three of those losses coming against the Bucs (2-0). Rob Gronkowski caught a pair of TD passes for the third straight game, including the Super Bowl.

TITANS 33, SEAHAWKS 30, OT

SEATTLE (AP) — Derrick Henry ran for 182 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns for Tennessee, and Randy Bullock hit a 36-yard field goal midway through overtime.

Down 30-16 early in the fourth quarter, the Titans leaned on their All-Pro running back, who carried them to a road win on the day Seattle welcomed fans back for a regular-season game for the first time since the end of the 2019 season.

They left in silence, thanks to Henry, a terrific fourth-quarter drive from Ryan Tannehill and Seattle’s own missed opportunities.

CARDINALS 34, VIKINGS 33

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kyler Murray threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns, and Arizona topped Minnesota when Greg Joseph missed a 37-yard field goal wide right in the final seconds.

It was a fitting ending to a seesaw game that saw the lead change hands eight times.

COWBOYS 20, CHARGERS 17

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Greg Zuerlein connected on a 56-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cowboys the win.

After Tristan Vizcaino tied the game with a 29-yarder with 3:58 remaining, Dallas went 49 yards in 11 plays to get into Zuerlein’s range.

Troy Pollard ran for 109 yards on 13 carries for the third 100-yard game of his career. Dak Prescott completed 23 of 27 passes for 237 yards as the Cowboys evened their record at 1-1 despite being without five players who started the opener.

RAMS 27, COLTS 24

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Matthew Stafford led Los Angeles on two late scoring drives and Matt Gay made a tiebreaking 38-yard field goal with 2:23 to play.

Stafford wasn’t as proficient as he was in the season-opening victory over Chicago but he did play well — even after appearing to hit his right thumb on the helmet of Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner in the first half. He finished 19 of 30 for 278 yards, two TD passes and one interception.

BILLS 35, DOLPHINS 0

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Josh Allen threw two touchdown passes, Zach Moss ran for two scores and the Bills knocked out Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa early with a rib injury.

BROWNS 31, TEXANS 21

CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield came back after hurting his left shoulder to throw a touchdown pass and run for a TD, leading Cleveland to the victory.

Nick Chubb had a 26-yard touchdown run for the Browns (1-1), who bounced back from a Week 1 loss at Kansas City to thrill their first capacity home crowd since 2019.

BRONCOS 23, JAGUARS 13

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Courtland Sutton had nine catches for 159 yards, and the Broncos handed the Jaguars their 17th consecutive loss.

In Denver’s first game without Jerry Jeudy (ankle), Sutton showed he can be Teddy Bridgewater’s go-to guy. Sutton’s big day included a shoestring grab in the third quarter that surely rates among his best plays in four seasons.

No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence capped an 83-yard drive to open the game with a 25-yard TD pass to Marvin Jones. But Jacksonville (0-2) did little right the rest of the afternoon.

PATRIOTS 25, JETS 6

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Mac Jones was smart and efficient, Damien Harris and James White had touchdown runs, and the Patriots took advantage of a nightmarish outing by Zach Wilson.

With the spotlight on the Mac vs. Zach matchup of rookie first-round quarterbacks, it was Jones who shined as Wilson was intercepted four times — twice by J.C. Jackson.

49ERS 17, EAGLES 11

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo threw one touchdown pass and ran in for a score, leading San Francisco to the road win.

Nick Bosa had two sacks and San Francisco’s stingy defense shut down Jalen Hurts a week after Philadelphia dominated Atlanta in a 32-6 win.

PANTHERS 26, SAINTS 7

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Sam Darnold threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns, and Carolina’s defense turned in another strong performance.

Darnold improved to 2-0 as Panthers starter, connecting on TDs to Brandon Zylstra and D.J. Moore as Carolina jumped to a 17-0 lead by outgaining the Saints 274-65 in the first half.

BEARS 20, BENGALS 17

CHICAGO (AP) — Justin Fields played the second half after Andy Dalton exited with a knee injury against his former team, and the rookie quarterback used Chicago’s stellar defensive performance to direct the Bears to their first win of the season.

Roquan Smith returned an interception 53 yards for his first career touchdown, one of three straight picks thrown by Joe Burrow.

Fields, the No. 11 overall draft pick, completed just 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards. He also ran for 31 yards.

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