Without Josh Jacobs, the Las Vegas Raiders had virtually no running game for most of the day, but it was no problem.
Quarterback Derek Carr passed for 382 yards and two touchdowns, and Daniel Carlson kicked four field goals as the Raiders outplayed the Pittsburgh Steelers much of the way in a 26-17 victory on Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
“It was a great effort by our players and coaches,” Coach Jon Gruden said. We’ve had a lot of injuries, but it says a lot out how the guys on our team stepped up when they got the call. We had a lot of big plays by a lot of guys.
“We’ve had a revolving door up front (on the offensive line), but those guys did a great job today. And the defense did a great job too, stopped the run for the most part and was able to get off the field.
“I think if you’re a Raider fan, you have to love this team.”
Following last Monday night's thrilling overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Silver and Black are 2-0 in a second straight season for the first time since 1984, when they did it for a third consecutive year.
However, Raider Nation remembers that Las Vegas won its first two games last season and was 6-3 before losing five of the last seven to finish a disappointing 8-8 and out of the playoff picture.
But these Raiders appear to be as good, if not better, than their 2016 team, which went 12-4 before being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs when Carr couldn't play because of a knee injury.
Carr gave the Raiders another scare in Pittsburgh, as he went down because of a right foot/ankle injury while throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Foster Moreau that gave them a 16-7 lead with 5:02 left in the third quarter.
However, after a quick tape job, Carr was back and hit speedy Henry Ruggs III with a 61-yard touchdown bomb with 9:35 left in the fourth quarter, which turned out to be the game-winner.
“You’re missing a superstar in Jacobs, the O-line is banged up and all these kind of things,” Carr said. “The AFC North, they want to stop the run, so I knew we would have to throw it to have a chance to win ... but I’m very proud of our guys.
“We haven’t done what we’ve wanted to do the last couple of seasons. We haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016. …We’ve started 2-0 before, but we have to keep going and we can’t let this thing go downhill. Keeping the mindset, staying in the process, staying in the channel, those are all the things that matter.”
Carlson, who might be the best kicker in the National Football League, kicked field goals of 46, 33, and 41 yards to give the Raiders a 9-7 lead at halftime and added a 45-yarder with 20 seconds left in the game to put a seal on the victory.
That's 26 straight field goals without a miss for Carlson.
With leading rusher Jacobs out because of toe and ankle injuries, the Raiders were limited to 52 yards rushing as Peyton Barber ran 13 times for 32 yards, and Kenyan Drake managed only nine yards on seven carries. Still, they made some critical runs as Las Vegas ran the clock down in the final minutes.
Chris Boswell kicked a 56-yard field goal with 3:42 left to get the Steelers to within 23-17, but Barber gained 18 yards on five carries, including a 13-yarder, and Carr hit the tight end, Darren Waller, with a 25-yard pass as the Raiders drove to Carlson's final field goal.
Waller, who had caught passes for more than 100 yards in each of his last four games, made five for 65 yards despite being double- and triple-teamed for much of the game, while Ruggs had five receptions for 113 yards, Hunter Renfrow added five catches for 57 and Drake made five for 46 yards.
“It was a moon ball,” Ruggs said of his touchdown pass from Carr. “He threw it up and I just had to run and go get it and do whatever I had to do to make the play. (Carr) came out and helped us win the game.”
Carr, who completed 28-of-37 passes without an interception, has passed for a Raiders record of 817 yards in the season's first two games.
The Raiders did all this with starting guards Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good out because of injuries, and rookie tackle Alex Leatherwood left the game at halftime because of an oblique straight.
Of course, it wasn't all offense for the Silver and Black, who limited the Steelers to 39 yards rushing and kept quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in check most of the way, as he completed 27-of-40 passes for 295 yards with a touchdown and an interception by Trayvon Mullen.
Mullen's pick of the pass by Roethlisberger, who came into the game with 397 touchdown passes in his career, and the ensuing 15-yard return to the Pittsburgh 39 set up Carlson's first field goal with 3:10 left in the opening quarter.
“Right now my play is just not good enough,” Roethlisberger said. “If I play better, we have a chance to win the football game.”
Linebacker Denzel Perryman led the Raiders with 12 tackles; safety Johnathan Abram had seven stops, including one for a loss. Trayvon Mullen added six tackles and one pass defensed, rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs also had six tackles, and linebacker Cory Littleton made five.
Defensive tackle Solomon Thomas had two tackles, the Raiders' only two sacks of Roethlisberger, three quarterback hits, and a pass defended. In comparison, defensive end Maxx Crosby made two tackles, one for a loss and five quarterback hits.
The Raiders will try to make it 3-0 for the first time since 2002 when they host the Miami Dolphins (1-1) next Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Please make sure you tell us your thoughts when you like our Facebook Page WHEN YOU CLICK RIGHT HERE.
Want the latest breaking Las Vegas Raiders news delivered straight to you? CLICK THE FOLLOW button at the top of the page. Don't miss any of the latest up to the second updates for your Las Vegas Raiders when you follow on Twitter @HondoCarpenter