The Oakland Raiders, who came into Sunday last in the NFL at 2-10, threw a wrench into the Pittsburgh Steelers’ postseason plans with a stunning come-from-behind win.
Trailing 21-17 with 21 seconds left in the game, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr completed a six-yard touchdown pass to Derek Carrier on 4th-and-goal. Suddenly, the Raiders were up 24-21. Carrier played the unlikely hero with two fourth-quarter scores after previously catching just one touchdown since debuting in 2012.
After Ryan Switzer took the following kickoff out to his own 30-yard line, the Steelers had 15 seconds to move the ball into field goal range and push Oakland into overtime.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, back from a rib injury that caused him to miss the start of the second half, completed a short pass over the middle to James Washington, who lateraled it to JuJu Smith-Schuster. The second-year receiver took the ball up the sideline another 43 yards to put the Steelers squarely in field goal range with five seconds left. It was a second truly outstanding play for Smith-Schuster after an incredible touchdown catch at the end of the first half.
Then, it was kicker Chris Boswell’s moment for a 40-yard attempt.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, he blew it. Boswell slipped right before kicking the ball, and the Raiders easily blocked the attempt as time expired.
Where does this leave the Steelers?
At 7-5-1, the Steelers still lead the AFC North by a half game over the Baltimore Ravens, but three consecutive losses have left their postseason position in a much more perilous place.
The Steelers have a tough draw the rest of the way with the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals. With a win, the Steelers would have had an outside shot at a first-round bye — since they could pull ahead of the Patriots if they found a way to win next week. Now, they will be more concerned with the Ravens breathing down their neck.
Baltimore closes the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers, and Cleveland Browns, which is a far easier schedule than the Steelers’. If Pittsburgh can’t win the division, it still has a leg up on the 7-6 Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans for the second Wild Card slot.
Where does this leave the Raiders?
The win was undoubtedly good for the morale of the Raiders, who only had one other win in over two months. However, the win also took away a chance for the Raiders to move into poll position for the first overall draft pick.
The Raiders came into the day tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the league’s worst record, although the 49ers will likely hold the tiebreaker based on strength of schedule. With a 49ers win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, a Raiders loss would have made the top pick all but theirs, giving them a chance to give Khalil Mack a worthy replacement in likely No. 1 overall pick Nick Bosa.
Making matters worse, the wins for the Raiders and 49ers move into a virtual tie with the Arizona Cardinals, who are also 3-10.
Of course, there’s still a chance the Niners pull off another win in their final games against Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, and Los Angeles Rams. The Raiders, meanwhile, will tangle with the Bengals, Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, while the Cardinals face the Atlanta Falcons, Rams and Seahawks.
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