As putrid as the Oakland Raiders were to start the season, they’re now at least as good -- or is it bad? -- as the Super Bowl champions.
Chris Carr returned an intercepted pass from Ben Roethlisberger 100 yards for a touchdown, Nnamdi Asomugha also took back an interception for a score, and the Raiders mounted a late goal-line stand to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-13.
After losing five straight games to open the season and spark talk of possibly going winless, the Raiders have put together consecutive wins for the first time since October 2005.
“We’re not going to go around and stroke our egos or anything like that,” defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. “We’re still 2-5. We have a long way to go to get ourselves to .500.”
But to find an equal, they need go only as far as the Steelers, who lost for the fifth time in six games and are in danger of missing the playoffs after falling three games behind Baltimore in the AFC North. Pittsburgh (2-5) did their best impression of the Raiders by committing four turnovers and four personal fouls and giving up five sacks.
“Two wins for the year -- that’s not the way you imagined the Super Bowl champs would start the year off,” Super Bowl most valuable player Hines Ward said. “When you turn the ball over as much as we did, it’s hard to beat anybody.”
Roethlisberger, playing a week after being knocked out because of a concussion against Atlanta, struggled from the start. He threw interceptions on two of Pittsburgh’s first three possessions and then twice again in the fourth quarter when the Steelers were driving for a potential tying score.
“I’m embarrassed about the way I played,” he said. “I’m letting the whole team down. It just seems like one guy makes mistakes and that’s me.... In my wildest dreams, I didn’t think I’d be playing this bad.”
Roethlisberger finished 25 of 37 for 301 yards, but 197 yards came after Pittsburgh fell behind 20-6.
Receiver Jerry Porter’s return did little to help Oakland’s anemic offense. The Raiders managed only 98 yards, giving up six sacks and failing to score an offensive touchdown as they once again struggled to block a blitzing opponent.
“The offense played terrible,” said quarterback Andrew Walter, who was five of 14 for 51 yards. “Personally, it was ridiculous. We can enjoy the win I guess, but personally it was pretty pathetic the way we played on offense.”