Steelers bit by injury bug, drop game to Raiders to start 2021 regular season at 1-1

Written By Anthony Cugini, Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Steelers were beaten by the Las Vegas Raiders 26-17. Pittsburgh was coming off of a big win in Buffalo coming into the game, but couldn’t repeat last week’s result, losing their first home game of the season.

The Steelers received plenty of negative news throughout the week. Both cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Devin Bush were inactive with groin injuries. Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu left the game early after suffering a fractured ankle and Linebacker T.J. Watt also left the game early due to a groin injury. The Raiders took advantage of these injuries as they took down Pittsburgh.

The scoring started towards the end of the first quarter after Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception to Trayvon Mullen. What looked to be a miscommunication between Roethlisberger and receiver Diontae Johnson turned into a turnover for Pittsburgh. The Raiders drove the ball down field but had to settle for a field goal, as kicker Daniel Carlson knocked through the 46-yard attempt.

The Steelers continued to struggle on offense as they turned the ball over on downs on the next drive. The defense was once again able to hold Vegas to a field goal.

On the next drive, the Steelers offense improved. This drive was highlighted by a 41-yard reception by Diontae Johnson. With Pittsburgh on the goaline, JuJu Smith-Schuster punched it in with a 3-yard touchdown run. After kicker Chris Boswell hit the extra point, the Steelers took the lead.

The Raiders put together another good drive as they drove down field against the injury-riddled Steelers defense before the end of the first half. After multiple penalties against Las Vegas, the drive was stalled, and they had to settle for yet another field goal putting them up 9-7 at the end of the half.

The Raiders passing offense thrived in the second half. After the teams traded punts to start the third quarter, Vegas put together an 82-yard drive that resulted in a Derek Carr touchdown pass to tight end Foster Moreau.

Pittsburgh bounced back in the fourth quarter with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to rookie running back Najee Harris. This got the Steelers within two points as Harris recorded his first touchdown in the NFL.

The Raiders responded quickly with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs. Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was slow to respond to Ruggs which allowed him to create separation.

Chris Boswell later hit a 56-yard field goal, the longest in Heinz Field history. The Raiders hit a field goal shortly after, which put the game away.

Despite the loss, there are positives to take away for the Steelers. Running Back Najee Harris showed why he was a first-round pick. One of the highlights of his day was a strong stiff arm that sent a Raider flying to the sidelines. He also picked up his first career touchdown in the loss.

On the defensive side of the ball, both T.J. Watt and Melvin Ingram III picked up sacks. Linebacker Robert Spillane led the team in tackles with 12, while also adding a tackle for loss. Safety Terrell Edmunds had 2 tackles for a loss.

Steelers offensive lineman Trai Turner was ejected from this game after spitting in the direction of a Raiders player. Turner was clearly upset with something one of the Raiders did or said. He then walked in the direction of a couple of the Raiders players and spit their way, resulting in him being ejected.

By the end of the game, the Steelers were missing four defensive players that started against the Bills last week. Even with the injuries, the Steelers were able to put up a fight, though it wasn’t enough to win the game.

The Steelers will look forward to next week where they’ll take on the Bengals at home. They’ll look to bounce back against their first divisional opponent of the season.