Kenny Pickett hit George Pickens on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 46 seconds remaining as the Pittsburgh Steelers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 13-10 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders during an emotional Saturday night.
Story of the Game
The last-minute victory was earned four days after the death of former Steelers great Franco Harris and one day after the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception,” when Harris caught a deflected pass and scored the game-winning touchdown during the final minute of a 1972 playoff game against the Raiders.
In his return after missing last week’s victory over the Carolina Panthers because of a concussion, Pickett was 26 of 39 for 244 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Najee Harris had 53 yards rushing on 16 carries for Pittsburgh (7-8), while Pat Freiermuth had seven catches for 66 yards.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was 16 of 30 for 174 yards and a touchdown but threw three interceptions. Las Vegas (6-9) could be eliminated from playoff consideration as early as Monday.
On a frigid night with temperatures hovering around the single digits, the Raiders went 72 yards on 14 plays on the opening drive of the game and scored on Carr’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow.
The Steelers’ Chris Boswell and the Raiders’ Daniel Carlson traded field goals in the second quarter as Las Vegas led 10-3 at half-time.
|Raiders 7-0 Steelers||Derek Carr 14-yard TD pass to Hunter Renfrow (extra point)|
|Raiders 7-3 Steelers||Chris Boswell 44-yard field goal|
|Raiders 10-3 Steelers||Daniel Carlson 40-yard field goal|
|Raiders 10-6 Steelers||Chris Boswell 40-yard field goal|
|Raiders 10-13 Steelers||Kenny Pickett 14-yard TD pass to George Pickens (extra point)|
Boswell missed a 52-yard attempt in the third quarter, but made a 40-yard attempt with 9:47 remaining to get Pittsburgh within 10-6.
The Raiders struggled in the second half as Carr threw two interceptions and the offense gained a combined 30 yards over their first five drives after half-time. NFL leading rusher Josh Jacobs finished with 44 yards on 15 carries for Las Vegas.
On their final possession, which started with 2:55 remaining, the Steelers finally made it inside the red zone and scored on Pickett’s pass to Pickens that completed a 10-play, 76-yard drive.
The short-handed Raiders defense was without Chandler Jones because of a third-quarter elbow injury and lost linebacker Denzel Perryman with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter.
One week after an improbable last-play touchdown for a victory over the New England Patriots, the Raiders’ hopes at another late comeback were dashed when Carr was intercepted by Cameron Sutton with 36 seconds remaining.
- Passing: Derek Carr, 16/30, 174 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
- Rushing: Josh Jacobs, 15 carries, 44 yards
- Receiving: Darren Waller, 4 catches, 58 yards
- Passing:Kenny Pickett, 26/39, 244 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Rushing: Najee Harris, 16 carries, 53 yards
- Receiving: Pat Freiermuth, 7 catches, 66 yards
- Diontae Johnson, 5 catches, 64 yards
- George Pickens, 5 catches, 57 yards, 1 TD
Steelers retire Harris’ No 32 jersey
The Steelers retired Hall of Fame running back Harris’ No. 32 during a bittersweet ceremony at half-time against the Raiders.
The long-planned honour came three days after Harris died at age 72 and one day after the 50th anniversary of The Immaculate Reception Harris pulled off in a playoff victory over the Raiders.
Harris’ widow, Dana Dokmanovich, and their son, Dok, joined Steelers president Art Rooney II on stage while many of Harris’ former team-mates, coaches and rivals-turned-friends stood nearby.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” Rooney said. “The big man was supposed to be with us tonight. Franco brought us joy for 50 years. So in recognition of his many contributions both on and off the field, it’s my honour to declare No. 32 is officially retired.”
The Steelers honoured one of the cornerstones of their 1970s dynasty throughout the night. Many players wore a replica of Harris’ jersey into the stadium and during warmups, and their throwback uniforms featured a patch commemorating the 50th anniversary of what was voted in 2020 as the most famous play in NFL history.
Defensive co-captain Cam Heyward carried a black flag with No. 32 on it during pregame introductions, before the club held a moment of silence for Harris before the opening kickoff.
Pickett – whose selection with the 20th overall pick in last spring’s draft was announced by Harris – even barked out “Franco! Franco!” in his cadence before sneaking for a first down in the second quarter.
Harris is the third Steeler to have his number retired. The team retired Hall of Fame lineman Ernie Stautner’s No. 70 in 1964 and the No. 75 of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene in 2014.
‘Harris was with us tonight’
Steelers quarterback Pickett: “It’s an incredibly special night, obviously. Dedicated this game to Franco, we all wore his jersey in tonight, felt like he was with us tonight and, definitely, on that last drive, you saw Najee making some great plays so it was really special.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin: “I’m just so thankful of the effort of the guys. We had a chance to be a part of Steelers history tonight and, man, we don’t take that lightly. We’re just so appreciative of the ground that’s been laid by those that have come before us, the men like this man’s jersey that I’m wearing right here.
“We get to enjoy the fruit of their labour daily just in terms of the standard of the expectation here in Pittsburgh, the relationship that we have with our fan base. We just want to honor him, his team-mates, and all the men that have come before us that’s made the black and gold what it is. So, we’re just thankful to get the victory.”
Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward: “I think for us it was just a tip of a cap to not only just a Steelers legend, but a great man, a person in this the community who you could always count on, a guy that even when he retired, he still wanted to be your team-mate. I can say from my time being here, Franco was welcoming me with open arms. It was — with everything building up to this and getting the chance to talk to Franco, I think there are so many joyous moments we’ve had with him, and it hurt so many in this community to lose a guy like that.”
On Christmas Day, we bring you yet another triple-header, this one also kicking off at 6pm with the Green Bay Packers (6-8) at the Miami Dolphins (8-6), followed by the Denver Broncos (4-10) at the Los Angeles Rams (4-10) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) at the Arizona Cardinals (4-10).
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