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(Sunday, December 6th)
Final Score: Oakland 27, Pittsburgh 24
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Louis Murphy's second touchdown reception of the game, an 11-yard grab with nine seconds remaining, capped a frantic fourth quarter and lifted the Oakland Raiders to a stunning 27-24 victory over the slumping Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
Bruce Gradkowski, who attended Seton-La Salle high school in Pittsburgh, completed 20-of-33 passes for a career-high 308 yards and finished with three touchdowns for the Raiders (4-8), who have won two of their last three games.
"Tremendous effort by the Oakland Raiders. We played very well in some areas and not so well in others, but enough to win," said Oakland head coach Tom Cable.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, back in the lineup after sitting out last week because of headaches caused by a concussion, threw for 278 yards on 18-of-24 efficiency with two touchdowns and one costly interception in the end zone.
Rashard Mendenhall had 103 yards and one score on 20 carries for Pittsburgh (6-6), which has lost four in a row and fell three games behind Cincinnati for first place in the AFC North Division.
A scoreless third quarter gave way to a chaotic final 15 minutes that featured five lead changes.
Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed failed to convert a 53-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter with the home team leading, 10-6.
The missed opportunity allowed the Raiders to start at their own 43. Oakland converted twice on third down and once on fourth during the ensuing drive that took almost seven minutes off the clock.
Gradkowski pushed his way up the middle for a two-yard gain on 4th-and-1 to the Pittsburgh 48. He then scrambled for eight yards to the 31 on a 3rd-and-3 and later pitched to Darren McFadden, who moved the chains with a six-yard burst to the 17. On the next play, Gradkowski hooked up with Chaz Schilens for the go-ahead score.
The Steelers regained the lead 68 seconds later.
Pittsburgh began its next series at its own 40 following a productive return by Stefan Logan. Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes over the middle for a 57- yard catch-and-run on first down. Mendenhall then ran around the left end, spinning off several bodies, for a three-yard touchdown and 17-13 Steelers lead with 7:13 remaining.
It was 20-17 Oakland less than two minutes later when Murphy hauled in a strike from Gradkowski and tip-toed down the left sideline for a 75-yard TD.
Now it was the Steelers turned to answer, as Roethlisberger guided Pittsburgh on a seven-play, 80-yard drive. He completed a 27-yard pass to Heath Miller and Mendenhall scampered for an eight-yard gain. After a short toss to Hines Ward, Roethlisberger hooked up with Holmes on a 20-yard completion that placed the ball at the Oakland 21. A two-yard run by Mendenhall and an eight-yard scramble from the towering quarterback gave Pittsburgh a first down. Roethlisberger then hit a streaking Ward for an 11-yard TD with 1:56 remaining.
A holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff forced Oakland to start at its own 12. Facing a 3rd-and-10 from the 29, Gradkowski hit Todd Watkins on a crossing pattern for 12 yards. Following an incompletion, Gradkowski threw a strike to Murphy, who was taken down at the Pittsburgh 40.
Steelers cornerback Joe Burnett dropped what would have been a game-ending interception on the next play. Murphy then made a leaping grab at the 17-yard line. After the Raiders were called for delay of game, Pittsburgh safety Ryan Mundy delivered a blow to the head of wideout Johnnie Lee Higgins. The unnecessary roughness penalty gave Oakland a first down at the 11. Two plays later, Murphy hauled in the game-winning catch.
Pittsburgh had one last chance, but Roethlisberger's throw was knocked down in the end zone.
"We didn't make a play (defensively) to win that football game," said Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin.
Logan returned the game's opening kickoff 83 yards to the Oakland 19, but the Steelers were forced to settled for a 33-yard Reed field goal.
The Raiders responded on their first series, converting a fourth down near midfield before Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 48-yarder.
Facing a 4th-and-1 from the Oakland five later in the first quarter, Roethlisberger was bottled up for no gain.
After the visitors were forced to punt, Pittsburgh went 61 yards in two plays. Roethlisberger threw a strike over the middle to Ward for 27 yards, then hooked up with Holmes in the right corner of the end zone for a 10-3 advantage with 1:11 gone in the second quarter.
Janikowski kicked a 43-yard field goal on the Raiders' next possession, trimming the deficit to 10-6 with 8:17 remaining.
Pittsburgh marched into the red zone and were looking to add to its lead before halftime, but Oakland safety Hiram Eugene made a juggling interception in the end zone.
Justin Fargas had 63 yards on 15 carries for Oakland...Holmes caught eight passes for 149 yards, while Ward had 77 yards on six catches...Steelers safety Troy Polamalu missed his third straight game with a knee injury...Oakland rookie wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was inactive because of a foot injury.
12/06 18:31:47 ET
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