4 Raiders takeaways from huge road win over Steelers
The Las Vegas Raiders took care of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, winning by a final score of 26-17. The Raiders found out just hours before game time that their number one running back, Josh Jacobs, would be unable to go. That was an immediate hit to their chances but Derek Carr was able to step up big time on the road in a hostile environment.
Here are four takeaways for the Raiders following their big road win over the Steelers.
1. Time to take the Raiders seriously
The Jon Gruden and Derek Carr led Raiders likely won’t end up as a top team in the league at the end of the season, but all they’ve done this year is prove people wrong. In Week 1 the Baltimore Ravens were favored over the Raiders by 3.5 points and that seemed low. No one saw the Ravens losing to the Raiders but Las Vegas pulled it off in one of the craziest games in recent memory. In Week 2, the Steelers were favored by 5.5 points, so two more than Baltimore was against the Raiders. Once again, Las Vegas came out on top.
Suddenly the Raiders are just one of seven teams with a 2-0 record and they’ve played two high quality opponents. The Ravens just beat the Kansas City Chiefs and the Steelers took down the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. This Las Vegas Raiders team doesn’t look too great on paper with a seemingly limited defense and an inconsistent offense but they’re getting the job done. It’s only fair we start taking the Raiders as a potential playoff team and it’s likely they start 3-0 with a game against the Miami Dolphins up next.
2. Derek Carr can be a true franchise quarterback
The Las Vegas Raiders don’t win these two games without a ton of help from Derek Carr. The statistics are outstanding, but even if you put those aside and just watch the games then you’ll see a new version of Carr. He has put the team on his back in both games and overcome adversity to lead them to wins.
In Week 1 it was the overtime victory with a great pass from Carr and in Week 2 he had to overcome the running game falling apart completely. Carr had to step up with Jacobs out and he did exactly that.
Derek Carr threw 37 passes in Week 2 and completed 28 of them for a 75.7 completion percentage. He threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions and was pretty flawless against a stingy Steelers defense.
His best throw of the day was a huge bomb to Henry Ruggs III for a 60 yard touchdown. The throw was perfect and ultimately gave the Raiders enough points to win the game. The Raiders have needed Derek Carr to step up in these first two games and he’s done everything needed plus more.
3. Even with Waller kept in check, the Raiders have receiving options
It was pretty obvious while watching the game on Sunday that the Steelers main goal on defense was to shut down Darren Waller. That is not easy task as we saw last week with Waller going for 10 catches and 105 yards on 19 targets but the Steelers did their job well. Waller was kept to just five catches on seven targets for 65 yards and zero touchdowns. If you told the Steelers that before the game then surely they would’ve taken it. They wanted to make the Raiders prove they have more options than just Waller, and it worked out for Las Vegas instead of Pittsburgh.
The Raiders had five players catch at least three passes, and 2020 first round pick Henry Ruggs III was featured the most. Bryan Edwards is the other receiver the Raiders want to get more involved and he was also a threat. For Las Vegas to have these two young receivers to take the attention away from Waller could prove to be extremely valuable. Ruggs III caught five passes for 135 yards and a touchdown while Edwards caught three passes for 40 yards. Wide Receiver Hunter Renfrow also looked good with five catches for 57 yards.
4. The rushing defense is still a big question mark
Just one week after getting gashed on the ground by the Baltimore Ravens for 189 yards, the Raiders held the Steelers run game to under 40 yards. The running styles from these two opponents are extremely different with Baltimore having the threat of running on any given play with the quarterback or running back. The Steelers are much more traditional in the run game, handing the ball off to bell cow rookie running back Najee Harris 10 times throughout the game and having zero threat of a quarterback run.
With Miami upcoming for the Raiders we could see a game in the middle of the first two for the Las Vegas rushing defense. The Dolphins aren’t going to run them out of town but they’ll likely do it more often and be more successful than the Steelers. For a defense that had very limited expectations entering 2020, they’ve looked good overall but it’s been way too inconsistent.