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Raiders hold off Steelers
Oakland, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Terrelle Pryor's 93-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage set the tone, and the Oakland Raiders withstood a late charge from the Pittsburgh Steelers to hold on for a 21-18 victory at O.co Coliseum.
Pryor finished with 106 yards on nine scrambles to help Oakland (3-4) stop a 10-game skid when coming out of its bye week. The dual-threat quarterback did throw a pair of interceptions while managing just 88 yards on 10-of-19 passing, but a stout effort by the Raiders' defense and a few missed opportunities from the Steelers enabled the Silver and Black to improve to 3-1 at home on the season.
"We had a phenomenal first half," Pryor said of the Raiders offense, "and the defense had a phenomenal second half."
The Raiders generated five sacks and limited Pittsburgh (2-5) to 276 total yards while intercepting Ben Roethlisberger twice and frustrating him for much of the afternoon.
Darren McFadden added a pair of touchdown runs to the win as part of a 24- carry, 73-yard performance.
Roethlisberger did lead the Steelers to two fourth-quarter touchdowns and put up 275 yards and a scoring pass on 29-of-45 efficiency, but his two picks and a pair of missed field goals from Shaun Suisham from inside 35 yards ultimately put an end to Pittsburgh's two-game win streak.
Emmanuel Sanders had 88 yards and a touchdown on seven catches in the loss, while Antonio Brown compiled 82 yards on nine receptions.
A holding penalty on the opening kickoff pushed the Raiders to their 7-yard line to begin the game, but Oakland wouldn't be backed up long.
Pryor got the Steelers to bite on a fake handoff to the left side, then burst through an opening off right tackle and outsprinted the entire Pittsburgh defense en route to the longest run in Raiders history, which put Oakland ahead just 19 seconds into the contest.
"For us to start the game that way was huge," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen.
The 93-yard burst was also three more than Pittsburgh's entire offensive output over the initial two quarters. After the Steelers were forced to a second straight three-and-out, Zoltan Mesko had a punt partially blocked by the Raiders' Rashad Jennings that resulted in a 3-yard kick which handed Oakland the ball on their opponents' 26-yard line.
A 14-yard connection from Pryor to Denarius Moore on 3rd-and-10 kept the chains moving, and McFadden bullied his away across the goal line from seven yards out shortly afterward to put the Steelers in a 14-0 hole midway through the first quarter.
"We had too many mistakes early to give ourselves a legitimate chance," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "We allowed them to control and dictate the flow of the game with how we started."
Pittsburgh was able to close the gap later in the period with help from its defense, as Troy Polamalu intercepted Pryor's overthrown ball for Brice Butler and returned the pick 17 yards to around midfield. Three Roethlisberger completions put his team in position for Suisham to connect on a 47-yard field goal that got the Steelers on the board with under a minute elapsed in the second quarter.
The Steelers continued to sputter on offense, however, and Oakland furthered the margin with a well-executed 11-play, 72-yard series that featured six rushes by McFadden, the last coming on a shotgun snap out of the Wildcat formation that the talented back cut back for a 4-yard touchdown just past the two-minute warning of the first half.
Another Pryor interception, this one by Cortez Allen on a ball that went through Butler's hands, gave Pittsburgh a scoring opportunity in the waning stages of the second quarter. Roethlisberger misfired on a short pass on 3rd- and-1 from the Raiders' 16, though, and Suisham pulled a seemingly easy 34- yard try wide to the right to keep the Steelers at a 21-3 deficit at the break.
Pittsburgh had another promising drive come up empty to start the second half. The Steelers got down to the Oakland 14 with a 16-play march that consumed more than nine minutes, but Suisham again was off the mark as his 32-yard attempt also sailed just to the right of the post.
The Steelers defense kept the game within striking distance, with Oakland mustering a meager 34 yards and one first down over the final two quarters. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons also jarred the ball loose from Jacoby Ford on a bubble screen early in the fourth quarter, with Brett Keisel pouncing on the fumble at the Raiders' 11-yard line.
Three plays later, Roethlisberger evaded a sack and found Sanders on a short toss over the middle for a 9-yard touchdown with 12:17 to play.
Brown's 44-yard punt return midway through the final period placed the Steelers back in scoring range, but the wideout had a pass bounce off his hands shortly afterward and the Raiders' Tracy Porter came up with a diving interception to thwart the threat.
Pittsburgh did cash in on its next possession, with Roethlisberger going 7- for-9 on a 12-play, 83-yard sequence capped by Le'Veon Bell's 2-yard touchdown run with 1:24 to go. Sanders took a pitch on an end around on the ensuing conversion attempt, reversed course and side-stepped a defender while crossing the goal line to pull the Steelers within 21-18.
Jennings covered up Suisham's onside kick, however, and the Raiders were able to whittle off enough time before punter Marquette King pinned the Steelers back to their 3-yard line with just 18 seconds on the clock, Pittsburgh ran only one play prior to time expiring.
The Raiders' last win following a bye had come during their last AFC championship season in 2002, a 52-25 verdict over Tennessee ... Pryor broke Bo Jackson's team-record 92-yard run against Cincinnati on Nov. 5, 1992 ... Oakland outrushed the Steelers by a 197-35 margin, with Bell held to 24 yards on 13 carries ... Suisham, named the AFC's Player of the Week after going 4- for-4 on field goals in last Sunday's win over Baltimore, had been 14-for-14 on 3-point tries coming in ... The Steelers had both starting guards leave due to injuries, with Ramon Foster suffering a concussion in the first half and David DeCastro hurting his right ankle in the third quarter.
10/27 21:37:50 ET