Though the Las Vegas Raiders are coming off a great win over the Baltimore Ravens to start the season, they can’t complacent now. The team is headed to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers on a short week. They’re coming off their own big win over the Buffalo Bills and could have the best pass rush in the NFL.
How the Raiders perform on Sunday could be quite telling for how the rest of the season is going to look. The two teams don’t share a division, but there’s always been a bit of rivalry due to some epic matchups in the 70s. One of the most epic moments in NFL history happened between the Raiders and Steelers in 1972 when Franco Harris made the “Immaculate Reception” in the playoffs that won Pittsburgh the game.
The iconic play has been the subject of controversy for a long time as many Raiders who were on the team claim that the ball hit the ground before Harris caught it. Had that happened, the silver and black would’ve won and possibly went to the Super Bowl. With the two teams set to play each other, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr made it clear where he stands.
“The ball touched the ground,” Carr told reporters on Wednesday.
It’s a matter that will likely never be resolved but the Raiders clearly still haven’t gotten over it.
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Carr Praises Ben Roethlisberger
The Steelers present a much different challenge than the Raiders’ Week 1 opponent posed. Ben Roethlisberger is no threat to run the ball but can still sling it all over the field and has solid weapons. Carr extended strong praise to the veteran quarterback ahead of the matchup.
“Ben is unbelievable at extending plays,” Carr said. “I don’t know if he would win a foot race with the guy that we played this past week (Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson), but Ben is someone that I’ve admired from afar forever. He’s a great talent. I was able to be at one Pro Bowl with him, so I got to ask him a lot of questions. Just kind of listen and learn. He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback; who wouldn’t take the opportunity to try and learn from that guy? I just sat there and I listened to how he talked to his team and the players that he had there with him and communicating with his coaches.
“He’s unbelievable at extending plays in the pocket. … He’s crazy accurate. He’s not afraid to take chances. You’ve seen that throughout his whole career, and he’s gotten a couple rings out of it. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in our game, still. You hear in the offseason, ‘Is he done?’ I’m like, ‘I watched the film, I hope he’s not done.’ The guy is unbelievable. He’s playing at a high level. So our guys, I hope they’ll be ready because he’s one of the best to do it.”
Roethlisberger has played in seven games against the Raiders in his career and has lost five of them. However, the last two that he won were in Pittsburgh. The Raiders have struggled against many teams over the year but the Steelers are one team they’ve had success against. A win here would do massive work for Las Vegas’ credibility as a possible playoff contender.
Carr Talks Facing T.J. Watt
The biggest thing that should be keeping the Raiders up at night regarding the Steelers is their pass rush. Las Vegas’ offensive line struggled in Week 1 and lost starting right guard Denzelle Good to a season-ending injury. 2020 sack leader T.J. Watt has to be licking his chops to go against the Raiders’ young offensive line. Carr had a chance to talk about the superstar pass rusher.
“He just doesn’t stop,” Carr said of Watt. “Just like his brother. Those two guys, whenever you play them, you know you’re in for a fight for the whole down. They’re going to fight and claw and do everything they can to get to you. Whether you hold [the ball] for one second or hold it for eight, they’re not going to stop. … You can tell [the Steelers’ defense] is a very unselfish group. Whoever makes the play, they’re all celebrating each other. You can tell that that bond is special because they all know that they all can eat because that guy did his job. It’s fun to watch from afar.”