San Francisco Chronicle

Carr’s big day keeps Vegas unbeaten

- By Will Graves Will Graves is an Associated Press writer.

PITTSBURGH — Jon Gruden’s long, arduous multistate, multi-year rebuilding project may finally be nearing its end.

The swagger might be back for the Las Vegas Raiders. The deep ball certainly is.

Derek Carr threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns, including a pretty 61-yard strike to Henry Ruggs midway through the fourth quarter, as the Raiders toppled Pittsburgh 26-17 on Sunday.

Not bad for a team playing on a short week on the other side of the country without its starting running back and any sort of offensive balance. It didn’t matter, particular­ly once the Steelers lost outside linebacker T.J. Watt to a groin injury in the second quarter.

“Honestly, anytime (Watt) is on the field he wrecks everything,” Carr said, later adding, “When he’s out of the game you notice he’s out but that doesn’t mean that we can do this or we can do that. We run our stuff in Las Vegas and have full confidence in our guys.”

It certainly looked like it. Carr shredded the Pittsburgh secondary in Watt’s absence, completing 16 of 21 passes for 263 yards in the second half, including a 9-yard flip to Foster Moreau in the third quarter and a rainbow to Ruggs with 9:35 remaining that gave the Las Vegas defense all the cushion it would need.

“You just see this gear that not a lot of human beings have,” Carr said of Ruggs. “It makes it fun for me.”

Ben Roethlisbe­rger passed for 295 yards, including a 25yard catch-and-run early in the fourth quarter that rookie running back Najee Harris turned into the first touchdown of his career to draw the Steelers within 16-14.

The Raiders (2-0) responded immediatel­y. Facing 3rdand-10 on Las Vegas’ next possession, Carr had plenty of time to step up and heave it to a streaking Ruggs, who raced past Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatric­k and Ahkello Witherspoo­n and into the end zone.

“Not many guys can run that fast and track the ball,” Gruden said of Ruggs. “It was certainly a big play. The protection, the revolving door we had up front in the critical moment and the throw ... there was a lot of good stuff to go around.”

Ruggs finished with five receptions for 113 yards, one of four Raiders with five grabs.

“We’re loaded with playmakers,“Ruggs said. “We have guys ready to step up at any time.”

The Steelers held Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller relatively in check until it mattered. Waller’s 25-yard reception with just over two minutes to go set up Daniel Carlson’s fourth field goal that provided the final margin.

“I’m not going to say London Bridge is falling down, but we’ve got to grow from this,” Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said. “We’ve got to keep harping on our mistakes and understand how big those (get off ) plays are.”

A week after pulling off a stunner in Buffalo in the opener, Pittsburgh got off to another slow start.

Harris again found little room to run behind Pittsburgh’s retooled offensive line, managing just 39 yards on 10 carries. The first-round pick added five receptions for 43 yards, including an acrobatic stretch across the goal line for his first touchdown as a pro.

Still, the offense operated in only fits and starts. Roethlisbe­rger completed 27 of 40 passes and absorbed 10 hits and two sacks while playing behind an offensive line featuring two rookies in left tackle Dan Moore Jr. and center Kendrick Green.

“Right now my play is just not good enough,” Roethlisbe­rger said. “If I play better, we have a chance to win the football game.”

 ?? Don Wright / Associated Press ?? Raiders quarterbac­k Derek Carr and wide receiver Henry Ruggs III hooked up for a late TD.
Don Wright / Associated Press Raiders quarterbac­k Derek Carr and wide receiver Henry Ruggs III hooked up for a late TD.

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