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Janikowski's kick lifts Raiders past Steelers

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen's first win turned out to be one he might never forget.

Sebastian Janikowski made a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the game, lifting the Oakland Raiders to a 34-31 victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Oakland Coliseum.

The Raiders improved to 1-2 and avoided digging a hole that few teams have climbed out of to reach the playoffs.

"It's a great feeling," Allen said. "I'm so proud of the guys in that locker room, the way they fought for 60 minutes.

"It's part of the foundation. It's a stepping stone to getting where we want to be. But it's one win in a 16-game season."

Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said he expected a 60-minute "fist fight" against the Steelers, a team he had started against 12 times as a Cincinnati Bengal.

That's exactly what took place.

The Raiders trailed by 10 points twice during the second half but kept coming back. They had to overcome a scary injury in the fourth quarter to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was knocked cold on what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet hit by Steelers safety Ryan Mundy in the end zone, and suffered a concussion. Heyward-Bey regained consciousness and was able to talk and move his extremities before being taken to Eden Medical Center in Oakland, Allen said.

"We were all in shock, just kneeling down and hoping for the best," Raiders running back Mike Goodson said.

The Raiders wound up getting the better of Pittsburgh on the scoreboard.

"In the past, these kind of games, we've found a way to lose," said Raiders safety Michael Huff, who was forced to start at cornerback for the first time in his career because of injuries to corners Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer. "This kind of win is big."

The Raiders drove 49 yards in eight plays for Janikowski's game winner.

Raiders running back Darren McFadden rushed 18 times for 113 yards with a 64-yard touchdown run in the first half, the second-longest run of his career. He entered the game with 54 yards on 26 carries in two games.

"It feels good," McFadden said. "I always tell myself that first big one always feels good. It's like a weight off your shoulders. I feel good about that. We just want to go out there, keep working hard and keep getting better each week.

"It's a great win for us. It's a confidence booster for us. We want to go out there and keep building on this and keep stacking wins."

Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns with one interception and a passer rating of 104.2.

Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger was 36 of 49 for 384 yards and four touchdowns - two to tight end Heath Miller -- with a 123.2 rating. Wide receiver Mike Wallace caught eight passes for 123 yards with a touchdown.

"We certainly didn't play well enough to win," Miller said. "You could say that for all three phases of our team. We've got to chew on this for a while. Hopefully we'll learn some lessons from it and take some positive steps forward."

Janikowski's 32-yard field goal pulled Oakland into a 31-31 tie with 6:30 left to play.

The Steelers faced fourth-and-1 from their 29, but instead of punting, they went for it. Isaac Redman blasted up the middle for six yards and a first down. But Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour sacked Roethlisberger on first down, and the Steelers wound up punting.

Oakland took over on its 25 with 1:43 left in the fourth. On third-and-10, Palmer hit tight end Brandon Myers for 15 yards. Then he found Derek Hagan for nine yards and Marcel Reece for seven and a first down at the Steelers' 44 with 33 seconds left.

On first down, Palmer hit Hagan over the middle for 17 yards to the Steelers' 26, well within Janikowski's range.

"I know when our offense goes out there and puts that many points on the board, they're giving us an opportunity to win the game," Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "It's our responsibility on the defense to go out there and shut teams down, and we didn't do that."

The Raiders forced four fumbles, recovering two, and didn't fumble once. They also won the penalty battle, committing just three for 25 yards while Pittsburgh was flagged 10 times for 81 yards.

"That was a poor performance by us," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "When you play like that you lose football games. Not enough stops on defense. We turned the ball over on offense. We gave up a big return or two."

After building a 17-14 halftime lead, the Steelers took the opening kick in the second half and drove 80 yards in nine plays for a touchdown, Roethlisberger hitting Wallace on a 22-yard strike, putting Pittsburgh ahead 24-14. Roethlisberger scrambled left, scrambled right and hit a wide-open Wallace over the middle in the back of the end zone.

Pittsburgh went no-huddle on the drive -- and for most of the second half -- and Roethlisberger picked apart a depleted Raiders secondary. He hit Wallace for 22 yards early in the drive then followed with strikes of 19 and 12 to Antonio Brown.

The Raiders, who used plenty of no-huddle of their own, struck back for a touchdown, Palmer hitting tight end Richard Gordon for a one-yard score, capping a 48-yard drive and cutting Pittsburgh's lead to 24-21 with 6:35 left in the third.

Goodson's 51-yard kick return put the Raiders in great field position for that drive. Then on first down, McFadden gained 16 yards around left end. Palmer's 12-yard pass to Denarius Moore gave the Raiders a first down at the Steelers' 19.

The Raiders gambled on the ensuing kickoff when Janikowski's on-side kick went out of bounds, and Pittsburgh took over at the Oakland 48. The Steelers quickly marched for a score. Roethlisberger hit Brown with a quick pass in the right flat. Brown was stripped by Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler near the goal line, but he recovered his own fumble in the end zone, putting Pittsburgh ahead 31-21.

The Raiders, though, refused to quit. They marched 80 yards in 11 plays for a score, Palmer hitting Moore on a six-yard touchdown pass with 12:13 left.

Earlier in the drive, Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was carted off the field after taking what appeared to be a helmet-to-jaw hit from Mundy.

"I didn't go in there trying to hit him with my helmet," Mundy said. "Things like that happen so fast. He may have come down to the level of my helmet. I have to see the replay, I don't know."

"I just said a prayer for him. I hope he was OK. Got to get back to playing football. We still had a football game to play. Unfortunately, things like that do happen. From my standpoint, they're never intentional."

Heyward-Bey was being covered by cornerback Kennan Lewis as he ran a post route, from right to left. As Palmer's pass arrived, Mundy delivered a huge hit on Heyward-Bey, who went down hard. Doctors and trainers secured him to a stretcher before placing him in a cart, as teammates gathered around him. As Heyward-Bey was carted off, fans gave him a loud ovation, and he raised his hand.

Notes: Former Raiders running back Marcus Allen, by team owner Mark Davis' request, lit the torch honoring the late Al Davis. Allen and Al Davis had a long-running rift. ... Cornerback Brandian Ross was on the active roster, four days after the Raiders signed him off the Packers' practice squad. ... Willie Smith made his first start as a Raider, replacing Khalif Barnes (groin) at right tackle. Barnes started three games last season at left tackle for the Washington Redskins. ... Matt Girordano started at free safety for Huff. ... Raiders rookie offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, a third-round draft pick from Utah, was on the active roster for the first time this season. ... Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, still recovering from ACL surgery, practiced this week but was not active. The Steelers have a Week 4 bye, giving him more time to rehab and prepare for live action. Running back Isaac Redman made his third straight start. ... Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and linebacker James Harrison (knee) were inactive.
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