The Pittsburgh Steelers‘ offense had carried the team for the first two weeks of the 2023 campaign. It was time for the offense to step up in Week 3 with a national television audience watching, and they did.
On Sunday Night Football at Allegiant Stadium, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 23–18 thanks to a well-rounded offense. With Kenny Pickett throwing for 235 yards and two touchdowns, the defense intercepting Jimmy Garoppolo three times, and the club moving to 2-1 in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC North, the numerous Steelers supporters in attendance had enough to rejoice about rather than jeer.
Kenny Pickett and the offense briefly entered the field to start the game after the Raiders won the toss but chose to delay. After three straight runs, the Steelers were three-and-out. Before either offense could make anything work, the Raiders did the same and Pittsburgh did the same to them once again.
After the Steelers went three-and-out once more, Josh Jacobs’ five-yard run and a nine-yard pass to Devante Adams helped Las Vegas gain its first first down of the contest. The Raiders crossed midfield when Adams gained 19 yards in the air. The Steelers believed T.J. Watt had forced a turnover from Jacobs on the ensuing play, but Watt was ruled to be down.
At the 7:10 mark of the first quarter, the Raiders were up 7-0 after the Steelers stopped Jimmy Garoppolo on a third-down quarterback sneak. Garoppolo then connected Adams with a deep pass over Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson for the game’s opening score.
It didn’t take Pickett long to reply. Three plays later, to tie the game, he connected with Calvin Austin III as he was tearing down the middle of the field for a 72-yard touchdown, Austin’s first of his career. The blitz pickup by Jaylen Warren was essential in allowing Pickett enough time.
To put the Raiders behind schedule on their subsequent drive, which ultimately resulted in another punt, T.J. Watt sacked Garoppolo.
The Steelers’ subsequent drive got off to a troubling start when Pickett threw the ball straight into Marcus Peters’ arms. Fortunately, Peters lost his grip on what would have been a pick-six. The first quarter came to a 7-7 tie following the second punt by the Steelers.
Adams persisted in destroying the defenseless Steelers secondary, gaining six and 19 yards. But Wallace, who moved in front of Michael Meyer to intercept a throw from Garoppolo at the Pittsburgh 31-yard line, stopped their advance.
With his first reception of the game, a 14-yard catch from Pat Freiermuth, the offense got going. The Steelers advanced further as Harris bulldozed his way to nine yards and a penalty for excessive roughness on Maxx Crosby. At the 8:37 mark of the second quarter, Chris Boswell entered the game to give Pittsburgh the lead 10-7 with a 43-yard field goal after the drive stalled in Raider territory.
After forcing the Raiders into another punt, the Steelers were able to regain possession of the ball. Pickett successfully completed a first down pass to George Pickens before benefiting from a defensive pass interference call against Austin’s cover player, rookie Jaquorian Bennett.
With little under 3:30 left before halftime, successive runs by Warren and Pickett moved the chains and gave the Steelers a new set of downs at the Raider 25-yard line. Following the two-minute warning, the Steelers were in position for a 42-yard field goal after Peters sacked Harris for a five-yard loss. With 1:56 left before halftime, Boswell knicked it through to increase Pittsburgh’s lead to 13-7.
A pointless two-minute Raiders practice came to an end when Watt sacked Garoppolo at an awkward angle. As the Raiders punted to end the half, he emerged groggy.
Garoppolo returned to the field to start the second half, but on the Raiders’ first possession following intermission, the Steelers forced a punt and he completed only one of his three throws.