The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to hold steady without Ben Roethlisberger earlier in the season. Now they might have to do it for the long haul.
Chris Boswell hit an 18-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to lift the Steelers to a 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday after Roethlisberger left with a potentially serious left foot injury.
The Steelers (5-4) survived when Roethlisberger exited midway through the fourth quarter after getting sacked by Aldon Smith. Replacement Landry Jones found Antonio Brown for a 57-yard reception on Pittsburgh’s final drive to set up Boswell’s winning kick.
Brown finished with 17 catches for 284 yards, both franchise records. Running back DeAngelo Williams ran for 170 yards and two scores as the Steelers rolled up 597 yards of total offense.
Derek Carr threw for 301 yards with four touchdowns and an interception for the Raiders (4-4). Carr found Michael Crabtree for a 38-yard score to tie it with 1:15, more than enough time for the Steelers to get Boswell in range for a chip shot even without their franchise quarterback. Oakland running back Latavius Murray ran for 96 yards but left in the third quarter with a potential concussion.
Roethlisberger passed for 334 yards with two touchdowns and a pick during an afternoon in which he moved past Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana and into 13th on the NFL list for career yards passing. When he’ll get to add to that total is uncertain after he was taken from Heinz Field for further evaluation after Oakland’s Aldon Smith fell on his left foot.
Pittsburgh appeared to be firmly in control early in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns in the span of three snaps. Roethlisberger threw a little bubble screen to Martavis Bryant that Bryant turned into a nifty 14-yard touchdown. Oakland’s Taiwan Jones fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Pittsburgh’s Roosevelt Nix fell on it at the Raiders’ 6. Roethlisberger pump faked rookie tight end Jesse James open in the back of the end zone and Pittsburgh was up 35-21.
The giddiness in the fourth-largest crowd ever at Heinz Field quickly faded. The Raiders drew within a touchdown on a 19-yard sprint by Jamize Olawale and Pittsburgh’s next possession ended with Roethlisberger hopping off the field after all 265 pounds of Smith landed on Roethlisberger’s foot. Roethlisberger missed four games earlier this season with a sprained left knee.
Ross Cockrell picked off Carr in the end zone on Oakland’s ensuing possession, but Carr collected himself to tie the game with a pretty strike to Crabtree to knot it at 35.
No biggie. Jones connected with Brown on a crossing pattern and Brown zigged back to the sideline deep into Oakland territory.
The Raiders came in with a chance to hit the halfway point of the season over .500 for the first time in 14 years while facing a team they’ve had success against even during the franchise’s decade-plus run of losing. Oakland began the day 4-1 versus the Steelers since 2006 and 43-103 against everyone else.
Carr needed all of three plays to put the Raiders in front, finding Crabtree for a leaping 22-yard touchdown before the game was three minutes old.
Roethlisberger pledged Pittsburgh’s offense could still be explosive even with All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell out for the season with a right knee injury. Facing the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass defense, it certainly looked that way. Repeatedly going to Brown in a variety of ways — short, long and even on a jet sweep — the Steelers took control. A 59-yard strike to Brown led to a 3-yard scoring burst up the middle by Williams. A 41-yard catch-and-run set up a Boswell field goal and a 19-yard out pattern set up Boswell for a 38-yard kick late in the half that put Pittsburgh up 21-14 at the break.