OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—As putrid as the Oakland Raiders were to start the season, they’re now at least as good—or is it bad?—as the Super Bowl champs.
Chris Carr returned an interception by Ben Roethlisberger 100 yards for a touchdown, Nnamdi Asomugha also took back an interception for a score and the Raiders mounted a late goal-line stand to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-13 Sunday.
After losing five straight games to open the season and spark talk of possibly going winless, the Raiders have put together consecutive wins for the first time since October 2005.
“We’re not going to go around and stroke our egos or anything like that,” defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. “We’re still 2-5. We have a long way to go to get ourselves to .500.”
But to find an equal, they need only go as far as the Steelers, who lost for the fifth time in six games and are in danger of missing the playoffs after falling three games behind Baltimore in the AFC North. Pittsburgh (2-5) did their best impression of the Raiders by committing four turnovers, four personal fouls and allowing five sacks.
“Two wins for the year—that’s not the way you imagined the Super Bowl champs would start the year off,” Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward said. “When you turn the ball over as much as we did, it’s hard to beat anybody.”
Roethlisberger, playing a week after being knocked out with a concussion against Atlanta, struggled from the start. He threw interceptions on two of Pittsburgh’s first three possessions and then twice again in the fourth quarter when the Steelers were driving for a potential tying score.
“I’m embarrassed about the way I played,” he said. “I’m letting the whole team down. It just seems like one guy makes mistakes and that’s me. … In my wildest dreams, I didn’t think I’d be playing this bad.”
Pittsburgh still had a chance after the two late interceptions, getting a first-and-goal at the 1 trailing 20-13 with about three minutes left. But Robert Thomas stuffed Willie Parker on first-and-goal and hit Najeh Davenport for a 4-yard loss on second down.
After a false start by Davenport put the ball at the 10, Roethlisberger completed a 7-yard pass to Hines Ward. On fourth down, Kirk Morrison broke up Roethlisberger’s pass to Santonio Holmes in the end zone.
“It looked pretty grim out there for a little bit when they were driving and only a touchdown down,” Raiders safety Stuart Schweigert said. “But that’s when we picked it up and played our best.”
After the Steelers forced a punt, Pittsburgh had one last-ditch opportunity. Roethlisberger completed a 49-yard pass to Nate Washington down to the Oakland 4 on the final play.
The Steelers had their chances in this one.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Morrison made a leaping interception on a pass from Roethlisberger to Ward on fourth-and-1 from the Oakland 36.
Trailing 13-6, Pittsburgh drove to the Oakland 7 before Carr intercepted Roethlisberger at the goal line and raced the length of the field for his first career score, making it 20-6.
“I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it,” Carr said. “I don’t think there are too many times in high school or college you get a chance to do that.”
Oakland’s pass defense lived up to its No. 1 ranking, which had been achieved in large part because the Raiders trailed so often early in the season opponents didn’t need to pass.
Along with the four interceptions, Oakland pressured Roethlisberger relentlessly and kept the Steelers out of the end zone until Willie Parker’s 25-yard TD catch with 7:19 to play.
Roethlisberger finished 25-for-37 for 301 yards, but 197 yards came after Pittsburgh fell behind 20-6.
Receiver Jerry Porter’s return did little to help Oakland’s anemic offense. The Raiders managed just 98 yards—their second fewest in a game since at least 1970—gave up six sacks and failed to score an offensive touchdown for the fourth time this season as they once again struggled to block a blitzing opponent.
“The offense played terrible,” said quarterback Andrew Walter, who was 5-for-14 for 51 yards. “Personally, it was ridiculous. We can enjoy the win I guess, but personally it was pretty pathetic the way we played on offense.”
Porter, inactive the first four games and suspended the last two as part of a long-running feud with coach Art Shell, caught a 19-yard pass in the final minute of the half to set up Sebastian Janikowski’s 19-yard field goal that made it 10-6.
Oakland’s other score in the half came on Asomugha’s 24-yard interception return.
“I thought our defense was magnificent,” Shell said. “We played as good as any defense could play in this league—against the world champions, the Super Bowl champions.”
Oakland’s leading rusher LaMont Jordan played sparingly with a sore back and Justin Fargas led the rushing attack with 55 yards on 18 carries. … CB Fabian Washington, Oakland’s first-round pick in 2005, got his first career interception. … Clark Haggans and Joey Porter had two sacks apiece for Pittsburgh and Derrick Burgess had 2 1/2 for Oakland. … Oakland had 93 yards on Dec. 7, 1997, against Kansas City.