PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The Steelers headed to the West Coast to take on the Oakland Raiders in Week 3 of the season hoping to build on their victory over the New York Jets.
It was a close game that took a scary turn when one of the Raiders was knocked out during a helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter.
After that, the Steelers just couldn’t hold on to the lead. And on the last play of the game, the Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 43-yard field goal to beat the black and gold 34-31.
The game turned somber early in the fourth quarter when wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious by that helmet-to-helmet hit. It happened in the end zone when he and Steelers’ safety Ryan Mundy collided. It was not called a penalty by the replacement officials.
Heyward-Bey was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to the hospital with a neck injury.
Carson Palmer then threw his third touchdown pass for Oakland (1-2) and Janikowski kicked two field goals to beat the Steelers (1-2) and give coach Dennis Allen his first win.
The Raiders took over with the game tied at their 25 with 1:42 remaining. Palmer got the drive going with a 24-yard pass to Brandon Myers on third-and-10 and then hit Derek Hagan on a 17-yard pass down to the Pittsburgh 26 with 27 seconds left.
Oakland then ran down the clock to set up Janikowski’s winning kick that sent the crowd into delirium less than an hour after silence overtook the stadium when Heyward-Bey was injured.
Palmer overcame an interception on the first play of the game to go 23 for 33 for 209 yards and three touchdowns, including a 3-yarder to Heyward-Bey late in the first half.
But Ben Roethlisberger was even better for the Steelers. He threw two TD passes to Heath Miller in the first quarter, as well as third-quarter scores to Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger finished 36 for 49 for 384 yards as Oakland failed to generate any sustained pass rush.
However, he failed to convert a third-and-9 under pressure following the two-minute warning to give Oakland the chance at the winning score.
Oakland’s Darren McFadden ran for 113 yards, including a 64-yard TD burst in the first quarter that surpassed his rushing total from the first two games of the season combined.
In the opening half, each team converted a turnover into a touchdown with the Steelers taking a 17-14 lead at the break. Roethlisberger’s 64 yards in the final 1:54 without a timeout set up Shaun Suisham’s 33-yard field goal on the final play.
The half started well for the Steelers as well when Palmer was intercepted by Ryan Clark on the first play from scrimmage after Denarius Moore slipped on the infield dirt while making his cut.
Roethlisberger converted one fourth down before throwing his first of two 4-yard TD passes to Miller in the opening quarter. In between those scores, McFadden scored on the longest run against the Steelers since 2006.
Oakland tied the game again late in the half after Joselio Hanson recovered a fumble by Jonathan Dwyer at the Pittsburgh 30. The Raiders then drew Ziggy Hood offside with a rapid shift on fourth down and Palmer found Heyward-Bey on the next play.
Early in the fourth quarter, Mundy’s helmet hit Heyward-Bey in the facemask on an incomplete pass in the end zone. Heyward-Bey’s neck jerked violently and his head also crashed into the ground. Players from both teams kneeled in prayer as Heyward-Bey was attended to for about 10 minutes. He managed to raise his right hand while being taken off the field on a cart to go to the hospital.
Four plays later, Palmer eluded pressure and found Moore on a 6-yard touchdown pass that brought Oakland within 31-28 early in the fourth quarter.
Raiders’ cornerback Pat Lee then forced a fumble downfield by Brown that Philip Wheeler recovered at the Oakland 36. Palmer then drove the Raiders down the field and they tied the game on a 32-yard field goal by Janikowski with 6:30 to play.
With the Steelers missing Pro Bowl defensive stalwarts Troy Polamalu (calf) and James Harrison (knee), the Raiders were able to move the ball effectively most of the game.
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