PITTSBURGH – The game was tied with a minute left, and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was already thinking about overtime. He helped erase a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit with two touchdown drives in three series against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and another score could earn the Raiders a third consecutive win.
He had plays and plans for the Raiders next offensive series, one that never came. Antonio Brown and backup quarterback Landry Jones – Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the fourth quarter with a foot injury – drove downfield and set up a game-winning field goal in a 38-35 win Sunday at Heinz Field.
That left Carr with regrets after the game, pondering opportunities missed and others never tried.
“During a game, sometimes you don’t know how much you’ve scored,” Carr said. “When I think back, I know we could’ve done so much more. That’s the thing that hurts me when we lose a close game like this. I’m hard on myself. I ask what more I could’ve done, what throw I could’ve made better and then turn that focus into doing better next time.”
Carr wasn’t perfect, he let some errant passes sail and threw his first interception since Week 5 in the end zone in the fourth quarter, only to remedy the mistake with a game-tying 38-yard touchdown strike to Michael Crabtree.
In all, Carr completed 24-of-44 passes for 301 yards, four touchdowns and an interception against the Steelers. That relatively low completion percentage was due in part to receivers unable to hang on to the football.
Amari Cooper could’ve corralled a few more passes – he still had seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown -- and some big hits jarred completions loose. The running game was humming, to the tune of 5.6 yards per carry.
Lost fumbles by running back Latavius Murray and kick returner Taiwan Jones hindered the offensive effort and put the Raiders in a bind.
The Raiders have scored at least 33 points three straight games and four times in eight contests, yet rue opportunities missed after posting 35 on the road.
“This is a tough one to take, especially after battling back like we did,” right tackle Austin Howard said. “It’s a learning experience to be sure. There are always things to take out of games to get better.”
The Raiders can be confident in a never-say-die attitude that keeps them coming back when things seem bleak.
But, in a wild card race where teams will be bunched together and every win matters – especially against Pittsburgh, which now owns a head-to-head tiebreaker – this certainly counts as a game the Raiders believe they should’ve won.
“It hurts to be so close. It really does,” Carr said. “We have a great group of guys. This team is a very resilient bunch. Things start to fall apart but we just keep fighting. That’s good to see. But, in this league, it’s all about winning football games. We didn’t do that today.”