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Fifty years after Franco Harris’ “Flawless Reception” helped lead the Steelers to a 4th quarter comeback victory over the Raiders, Pittsburgh pulled off another stunning win against the Silver and Black to close out the NFL’s Christmas Eve season. Between ceremonies honoring the late Harris, who died this week at age 72, the Steelers dominated defense in the face of chilly air and the early Raiders stormed back Saturday with 10 fourth-quarter points and a 13-10 win.

The come-from-behind win not only temporarily preserves coach Mike Tomlin’s streak of undefeated seasons; it also technically keeps the Steelers in the AFC wild-card race while trailing Josh McDaniels’ Raiders at 6-9 on the year. Pittsburgh trailed after Las Vegas scored on its opening possession until the final minute of the game, when rookie Kenny Pickett found rookie George Pickens for a pass.

Here are some additional highlights from Saturday night’s AFC showdown:

Why did the Steelers win?

Fitting in an evening dedicated to an ancient NFL legend, the Steelers turned back the clock to the days of old-school crushing football, especially on defense. After surrendering a 15-play opening TD drive, Pittsburgh completely dismantled Josh McDaniels’ offense by gobbling up Josh Jacobs, covering Davante Adams and, most notably, baiting Derek Curry with some ill-timed three-pick shots. Cameron Hayward was strong up front, Alex Highsmith had a key sack and Cameron Sutton made perhaps the best interception of his career, diving to steal a last-gasp deep ball from Carr to seal the win. Predictably floating most of the night, Kenny Pickett and Co also played their part in the breakout; Pickett’s TD strike to George Pickens was flawless, and Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth went up the final drive.

Why did the Raiders lose?

Derek Carr apparently wasn’t prepared for that kind of weather or defense. Obviously, the loss doesn’t just fall on the Raiders’ veteran QB. Jacobs, for example, had nothing on the ground, and the timing between Curry and Hunter Renfrow didn’t always look pristine, which makes sense considering the latter missed most of the year with an injury. But given the opportunity to put away one ugly, low-scoring game after another, the No. 4 picked the ball up and drove too often, gifting the Steelers a bonus possession and once immediately following a Pickett pick. It didn’t help that Adams was invisible until one of the final drives, but it was just an off night for Carr, who now has nine picks in his last five outings.


Fourth and 1 for the Steelers at the Raiders 15 yard line with just 55 seconds on the clock. This was the game. Kenny Pickett had enough on the ensuing QB rush, picking up more downs and, with time still remaining, providing a legitimate chance to steal the lead in the final minute. The Pickett TD came soon after, after playing in the cold overnight in front of the Steelers. The Raiders’ three-and-out upfront was part of the momentum shift.

Game play

It has to go to Sutton, who did lay down and then hang on to the ball for Curry’s third pick of the night despite being connected to Hunter Renfrow on the way to the turf.

What’s next?

The Raiders (6-9) will return home for a Week 17 showdown with the NFC West-leading 49ers (11-4), who defeated the Commanders on Christmas Eve. The Steelers (7-8), meanwhile, will play the rival Ravens (10-5), who clinched a playoff spot by beating the Falcons earlier Saturday.


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