OAKLAND — One of the NFL's most bitter rivalries just added a whole new chapter.
"We beat a great organization," Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour said at his locker Sunday. "You talk about the Raiders and the Steelers, I mean, that's two historic franchises, and doesn't really get any better than that."
Especially when the Raiders come out with a 34-31 win as they did at O.co Coliseum, overcoming a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to pick up their first win of 2012 — and the first of coach Dennis Allen's NFL career — and adding some light to a season that started bleakly and seemed on the verge of spiraling down the drain.
It was the highest-scoring game between the two teams since the Raiders' 45-34 victory in 1980.
In a contest with 754 yards of total offense, it was the Raiders who made the important plays down the stretch, culminating in Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired, a kick that was placed just a couple feet from the treacherous infield dirt of the multi-use Coliseum.
The victory rekindled the Raiders hopes on many fronts. The anticipated running game that had abandoned them during losses to San Diego and Miami reappeared against the rugged Steelers as Darren McFadden rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries, including a 64-yard scoring burst that got Oakland on the board early. The run defense, gashed by the Dolphins a week earlier, limited Pittsburgh to 54 yards on 20 attempts. And a team that came into the game with no takeaways forced four fumbles and recovered two of them — including a miscue by wide receiver Antonio Brown that Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler recovered with 10:45 left.
The Steelers were clinging to a 31-28 lead at that point, but the Raiders closed with a flurry. Carson Palmer led a 50-yard drive to set up Janikowski's 32-yard field goal. And even after Pittsburgh converted a gutsy fourth-and-1 play at its own 29-yard line on its next possession, the Raiders soon forced a punt, setting up a 49-yard drive to the game-winning kick.
"I wasn't going to punt the football to them," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of his decision to go for the fourth-and-1 play. "We hadn't stopped them enough in the second half to do that. It was inside of one (yard), and if you can't get inside-of-one, you deserve to lose games."
Already thin at wide receiver, the Raiders lost Darrius Heyward-Bey to a crushing hit early in the fourth quarter. So on the final drive, Palmer turned to the likes of tight end Brandon Myers, fullback Marcel Reece and backup receiver Derek Hagan, who wound up wide open on a crossing route for a 17-yard gain that set up Janikowski's boot.
Palmer had an excellent game, but for most of the day he was overshadowed by Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 36 of 49 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns, the first two to tight end Heath Miller. The Steelers pushed the Oakland defense ear exhaustion with a no-huddle offense, and with quick slants and out patterns.
When Roethlisberger dropped back for deeper passes, it was usually bad news for the Raiders. The big quarterback repeatedly eluded pass rushers to buy time, and his fleet stable of receivers was more than a match for Oakland's banged-up secondary, which came in missing two starters (Ron Bartell, now on injured reserve, and Shawntae Spencer) and lost two more players, safeties Matt Giordano and Mike Mitchell, for short periods Sunday.