Final

Raiders 27

(4-8, 2-4 away)

Steelers 24

(6-6, 4-2 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, December 6, 2009

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA 

1 2 3 4 T
OAK 3 3 0 2127
PIT 3 7 0 1424

Top Performers

Passing: B. Gradkowski (OAK) - 308 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: R. Mendenhall (PIT) - 20 CAR, 103 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: S. Holmes (PIT) - 8 REC, 149 YDS, 1 TD

Steelers drop 4th straight as Gradkowski delivers TD with :09 left

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- The Super Bowl champion Steelers are losing their confidence as fast as they're losing leads and losing games. The Oakland Raiders? Suddenly, they're winning like they did in the old days, with remarkable comebacks and surprise finishes.

Walker: D Lets Down Steelers

Known for a stingy defense that is the Steelers' staple, it was that side of the ball that failed Pittsburgh in Sunday's loss. Blog

Louis Murphy caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bruce Gradkowski with nine seconds remaining, his second score in the final 5 1/2 minutes, and the Raiders scored three late touchdowns to stun Pittsburgh 27-24 on Sunday and deal the Steelers their fourth consecutive loss.

The Steelers (6-6), in danger of missing the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl for a second time in four seasons, went ahead 24-20 on Ben Roethlisberger's 11-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward with 1:56 remaining, only to have the Raiders (4-8) rally and win it.

For the two-touchdown underdog Raiders, it was a comeback win even better than their 20-17 upset over Cincinnati two weeks before. Then, Murphy caught a 29-yard touchdown pass and Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 33-yard field goal in the final 33 seconds.

Bad Omen

The Steelers are just the fourth defending Super Bowl Champion to lose four straight games. None of those teams made the playoffs that year.

Year Team Streak Final W-L
1987 Giants 5 6-9*
2009 Steelers 4 ?
2002 Patriots 4 9-7*
1999 Broncos 4 6-10*
*Did not make the playoffs

Overmatched against his hometown Steelers last season, Gradkowski became the first Raiders quarterback to throw three touchdowns in a fourth quarter since Ken Stabler during a 42-35 win over New Orleans on Dec. 3, 1979, when Oakland trailed 35-14.

Who does Gradkowski think he is, one-time Raiders comeback king George Blanda? Until Sunday, the Raiders had thrown only five touchdown passes all season.

Gradkowski, who completed only two passes and had a 1.0 passer rating during a 31-0 loss in Pittsburgh with Cleveland last December, finished 20-of-33 for 308 yards with a passer rating of 121.8.

"Our receivers coach [Sanjay Lal] gave us a message, and he brought up the Miracle on Ice, Buster Douglas knocking out [Mike] Tyson, and things that were just unbelievable but the people that did it believed they could," wide receiver Todd Watkins said.

Fast Facts

• Louis Murphy had two TD catches, matching the total he had in the first nine games of his NFL career.

• The Raiders were averaging just 9.5 points per game in their last 10 games.

• Santonio Holmes had a 129 receiving yards, his most yards since Week 1 (131 against Tennessee).

• Bruce Gradkowski threw for a career-high 308 yards.

• Rapid Reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Pittsburgh, 6-2 at midseason, has lost to two of the NFL's worst teams in the last three weeks, the Chiefs (3-9) and the Raiders, to fall three games behind Cincinnati (9-3) in the AFC North.

"I can't even describe how frustrating it is right now to be 6-6," linebacker James Farrior said. "We thought we'd be doing a lot better at this point. But we are what our record says we are."

It was the fifth time in six losses the Steelers couldn't hold a lead in the fourth quarter. They led 10-6, 17-13 and 24-20.

"As a defense, you want to be dominant," cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "The way to be dominating is when your team needs you to finish."

After three quarters with little scoring, long stretches of inactivity and an unusually quiet crowd, the fourth quarter became a back-and-forth duel between revived offenses, with the lead changing five times in the final 8 1/2 minutes.

"We'd score, they'd score, we'd score," Oakland's Jon Condo said.

It all started when Gradkowski connected with Chaz Schilens on a 17-yard scoring pass with 8:21 remaining to give Oakland its first lead at 13-10.

The Raiders, held to 49 points in their first five road games and next to last in the NFL in offense, fell behind 17-13 on Rashard Mendenhall's 3-yard TD run one play after Roethlisberger's 57-yard hookup with Santonio Holmes. Holmes earlier put Pittsburgh up 10-3 with a 34-yard scoring catch.

Oakland answered again when Murphy got behind Ike Taylor on a 75-yard touchdown pass that made it 20-17 with 5:28 to go, but it wasn't nearly over.

Back-And-Fouth

Sunday was just the third time in NFL history, but the second time this season, that there was five go-ahead touchdowns scored in the fourth quarter.

5 go-ahead TDs in 4th quarter
Date Final score
Sunday Raiders 27, Steelers 24
Oct. 12, 2009 Dolphins 31, Jets 27
Nov. 4, 1962 Giants 31, Cardinals 28

Pittsburgh drove 80 yards in seven plays for Ward's touchdown, but left enough time on the clock -- almost three minutes -- for Oakland to win it with the kind of drive it's rarely mounted all season, much less three times in a quarter.

Gradkowski found Murphy for 19 yards to the Steelers 40 and 17 yards to the 23, and a late-hit penalty on backup safety Ryan Mundy gave Oakland a first down at the 11. Murphy then got free behind Mundy -- playing only because Troy Polamalu (left knee) missed a third consecutive game -- for the game-winner.

"That was so exciting, I can't even put into words how I feel," said Gradkowski, whose first two starts in Pittsburgh in 2006 and 2008 yielded three points, five interceptions and zero wins.

Playing 17 days shy of the 37th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, the Steelers had one more chance. Roethlisberger threw into the end zone from the 50 on the final play, but Hiram Eugene knocked down a pass intended for Limas Sweed.

No miracle finish against Oakland this time.

"We played poorly at a critical time, so you lose when you do that," coach Mike Tomlin said.

Game notes


Roethlisberger, returning after sitting out a game with a concussion, was 18 of 24 for 278 yards, two TDs and an interception thrown into the end zone late in the first half. ... The Steelers have allowed seven plays of 40 yards or longer in their last four. They gave up only two such plays last season. ... Pittsburgh is 2-5 when Polamalu doesn't start. ... Murphy made four catches for 128 yards, all in the fourth quarter.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
OAK
PIT
1st Downs1919
Passing 1st downs
1412
Rushing 1st downs
36
1st downs from penalties
21
3rd down efficiency
6-163-9
4th down efficiency
2-20-1
Total Plays6552
Total Yards396401
Yards per play6.17.7
Total Drives1112
Passing287269
Comp-Att
20-3418-24
Yards per pass
7.810.8
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-211-9
Rushing109132
Rushing Attempts
2827
Yards per rush
3.94.9
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-22-5
Penalties9-704-41
Turnovers01
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession32:4927:11

Passing Leaders

OAKC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Gradkowski20/333089.3303-21
Bush0/100.0000-0
PITC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Roethlisberger18/2427811.6211-9

Rushing Leaders

OAKCARYDSAVGTDLG
Fargas15634.2013
McFadden9252.807
PITCARYDSAVGTDLG
Mendenhall201035.2160
Parker3155.009

Receiving Leaders

OAKRECYDSAVGTDLG
Murphy412832.0275
Higgins46315.8022
PITRECYDSAVGTDLG
Holmes814918.6157
Ward67712.8127

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTEROAKPIT
pitFG13:38Jeff Reed 33 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 4 plays, 4 yds, 1:26
03
oakFG8:41Sebastian Janikowski 48 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 28 yds, 4:58
33
SECOND QUARTEROAKPIT
pitTD13:58Santonio Holmes 34 Yard Pass From Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 61 yds, 0:54
310
oakFG8:22Sebastian Janikowski 43 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 53 yds, 5:32
610
FOURTH QUARTEROAKPIT
oakTD8:27Chaz Schilens 17 Yard Pass From Bruce Gradkowski (Sebastian Janikowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 57 yds, 6:34
1310
pitTD8:12Rashard Mendenhall 3 Yard Run (Jeff Reed Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 60 yds, 1:08
1317
oakTD5:42Louis Murphy 75 Yard Pass From Bruce Gradkowski (Sebastian Janikowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 84 yds, 1:45
2017
pitTD2:00Hines Ward 11 Yard Pass From Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yds, 3:32
2024
oakTD0:15Louis Murphy 11 Yard Pass From Bruce Gradkowski (Sebastian Janikowski Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 88 yds, 1:47
2724