The Pittsburgh Steelers came from behind to beat the Las Vegas Raiders in an emotional and special game at home. Here’s what we learned.
All I can say is: what a game! With the way the Steelers were playing in the first half, I honestly thought we would be discussing a loss and a loss at home on the anniversary of the Immaculate Reception to the Las Vegas Raiders.
On a night when we retired the jersey of Franco Harris, the author aforementioned Immaculate Reception, I honestly thought we would be wallowing in the misery of a loss that would have eliminated us from any hopes of playoff contention.
It goes without saying that a loss would have been even more devasting considering we are in the midst of mourning the loss of Franco Harris. Thanks to the resolve of our team, we are talking about a win.
Let’s see what we learned on the offensive side of the ball.
The Steelers offense finally woke up in the fourth quarter
It’s not like the offense wasn’t able to move the ball, but we just could not ‘cash in’ save for a lone FG in the second quarter. On three drives in the first half, we punted, missed a FG, and made a FG. Trailing by seven points heading into the third quarter, our first drive resulted in an INT.
Fortunately, on the ensuing drive by the Raiders, we got an INT so no harm, no foul, as it were. We then proceeded to miss another FG. At this point, I was thinking that all the emotions of the day would be all for naught. How could we possibly lose such a momentous and meaningful game at home to the team that was our archnemesis for nearly the entire decade of the 1970s?
Fortunately, the Steelers offense came alive when it mattered the most. We scored ten points in the fourth quarter and our only TD of the game on what would prove to be a game-winning drive lead by Kenny Pickett.
Let’s see what we learned on the defensive side of the ball.
The Steelers defense regrouped to stifle the Raiders offense
The Raiders marched right down the field on their first possession to take a seven-point lead. When we punted on our first possession, I really thought the Raiders were just going to dominate the game having just gone seventy-two yards on an eight-minute drive.
Fortunately, I was wrong. The defense regained composure and essentially shut down the Raiders offense for the rest of the game. When all was said and done, the Steelers defense surrendered a hair over two hundred total yards.
That is amazing considering how the game started for us on the defensive side of the ball. We generated three sacks and managed to grab three INTs. None of those INTs were as big as the one grabbed by Cameron Sutton.
Trailing by only three points, the Raiders were hoping to mount a comeback of their own. Instead, Sutton picked off Carr to end any hope of a comeback. That particular INT was huge because it looked to me like we were playing ‘zero coverage’ or ‘cover zero’, meaning there was no deep safety. Sutton made a great play, plain and simple.
Let’s see what else we learned.
The Steelers pulled it out in the end to cap off an emotional day
Look, I really don’t care how we win as long as we win. To say that the Steelers had to beat the Raiders would be a colossal understatement. At the outset of the game, there was obviously no guarantee that we were going to win, but somehow, someway, we dug deep to earn a much-needed victory.
Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for keeping the team focused on the mission at hand. It goes without saying that the players deserve a lot of credit for maintaining composure and finding a way to gut out a win.
No matter how the rest of the 2022 season unfolds, we will always have the memories of a hard-fought game against a rival to keep our playoff hopes alive. There was also another hard-fought game against a rival whom we bested fifty years ago almost to the day in a contest that will forever be known as the game in which Franco Harris caught the Immaculate Reception.