OAKLAND, CA — As history has shown us, the match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders has had its fierce battles. What was once a hated rivalry with epic games has dwindled down within the last few decades. Perhaps this most recent match-up has sparked such rivalries to be brought back to life. Well, the crowd in Oakland (especially those who stayed till the end) sure got what they paid for. This game displayed two future stars at quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers Colin Kaepernick and the Oakland Raiders Terrelle Pryor. Statistics wise, Pryor had the better game because the Raiders were behind in the second half.
The game started slow as both teams were feeling each other out but picked up in after the half where the Steelers were slowly building up a lead. What led the Raiders to fall back and lose momentum was the vicious hit that Ryan Clark laid on Taiwan Jones, which caused a fumble and led to Tim Jennings recovering the ball and taking it 40 yards for a Steelers touchdown. Coach Farias was irate with Jones after the fumble; he was considering replacing him with undrafted rookie Dennis Andrews. Jones has had difficulty holding on to the ball as he has fumbled in several times during the season. However, Coach Farias stuck with his running back and it sure paid off at the end.
The Steelers defense was applying constant pressure on the Raiders offense. Steelers’ James Harrison managed to sack Pryor twice while Troy Polumalu intercepted Pryor, which appeared to be the nail in the coffin. The Steelers controlled the majority of the second half with a time of possession of 19:02. The Steelers had an opportunity to extend their lead with a 40 yd. field goal but Steven Hauschka kicked the field goal wide left and somehow that gave the Raiders some hope. It was a long shot but the Raiders rallied during that last two minutes of the game. Pryor lead his team down the field with big pass after big pass until Pryor hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 2 yd. touchdown pass. With only 0:36 left on the clock, Coach Farias was hesitant on going for 2 points but sent Janikowski for the extra point and hope to recover the onside kick.
What appeared to be almost an empty stadium since the majority of the crowd believed the game was over; the Raiders lined up for the onside kick and were ready to give it one more shot. “I never look forward to the onside kick. We normally do one every practice but we never it expect it do go our way,” said Janikowski. Well, Janikowski managed to kick the ball and to his own amazement, the ball bounced off a Steelers player and made its way to Janikowski for the recovery.
Now, the Raiders had less than 30 seconds to make something happen. As Pryor threw incomplete after incomplete pass, we all knew what was expected. As both teams lined up for third down, Pryor sent Taiwan Jones to the left on a streak to the end zone. There was no hope but Pryor threw a hail mary pass to Jones into double coverage. As the two Steelers defenders tried to bat down the ball, Jones miraculously snatched the ball and maintained possession for the touchdown with 0:06 remaining.”The plan was to send me to the end zone if T.P. saw an advantage. I didn’t know if I was actually going to get the ball but when I turned to look for the ball, it was right there and I did the best I could to catch it. It feels amazing,” said Jones. “I knew that I had to make up for that lost fumble earlier because Coach was on me about it. So I hope I made him happy.” First year coach Max Farias explained how he felt about the winning play, “The plan was to get the ball to D. Moore since he was hot, but Pryor found T.J. and I’m just relieved that he came up with it. It was an ugly win but we’ll take it. We learn from this and we now focus on the Chiefs.”
The Raiders defense managed to hold the Steelers off for the remaining seconds of the game and walked away with a miracle that would leave a sour taste for the Steelers; a taste that can only be replaced with the sweet taste of redemption. Has the rivalry possibly returned?
Stars of the game:
QB: Terrelle Pryor passer rating of 114.0; 326 passing yards; 3 tds.; 1 int.; 1 fumble.
RB: R. Mendenhall with 53 yds. on 12 attempts with 1 td
WR: Denarius Moore: seven receptions for 134 yds.
Defense: James Harrison with two sacks and three total tackles