OAKLAND -- In the time it took Sebastian Janikowski to kick a 43-yard field goal as time expired, the stress and anxiety from an 0-2 start and a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit was wiped clean.
The Raiders beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-31 Sunday before a raucous crowd of 62,373 at O.co Coliseum and addressed a number of concerns that had built up since the regular season started in the process.
They proved they could bounce back from a deflating defeat, getting Dennis Allen his first win as an NFL head coach the week after a second-half meltdown in Miami.
They proved they could run the ball behind their zone scheme, with Darren McFadden racing 64 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball and finishing with 113 yards on 18 carries.
Quarterback Carson Palmer proved he could bring the Raiders from behind in the fourth quarter, completing 24 of 34 passes for 209 yards and three short touchdowns -- 3 yards to Darrius Heyward-Bey, 1 yard to Richard Gordon and 6 yards to Denarius Moore.
The Raiders defense proved it could make just enough plays to walk off the field a winner, with two forced fumbles leading to 10 points. A strip of Antonio Brown by Pat Lee set the stage for Janikowski's field goal that tied the score at 31.
It came at a price -- Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious early in the fourth quarter and was in stable condition at Eden Medical Center -- but was ultimately satisfying
"It didn't always look pretty, but it doesn't have to,'' Allen said. "Our guys hung in there, they fought, they knew it was going to be a 60-minute battle, and we fought for 60 minutes and were able to come out on top.''
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said his team's performance was "poor'' and added, "I'd like to tip my cap to the Oakland Raiders. They played winning ball, but that's not the style of ball we desire to play. You're going to lose games when you play like that.''
The Raiders won despite seeing Roethlisberger play pitch and catch against the Raiders' makeshift secondary, which included free safety Michael Huff as a full-time cornerback.
Roethlisberger was seldom pressured and broke free to complete passes when the Raiders got anywhere near him, completing 36 of 49 passes for 384 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Yet with the Raiders trailing 31-21 after Roethlisberger's final touchdown pass, an 11-yard pass to Brown with 1:31 left in the third quarter, the defense came up with stops on its last two series, which meant the difference in the game.
After Palmer's touchdown pass to Moore capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive to make it 31-28, Roethlisberger found Brown for a 20-yard gain into Oakland territory. It was then that Lee stripped Brown, with linebacker Philip Wheeler recovering, setting up a 50-yard drive that ended with a game-tying field goal by Janikowski from 32 yards out.
Pittsburgh got the ball back with 6:30 left, and with the help of Oakland's only sack -- by Richard Seymour with 3:09 remaining -- the Raiders forced a Steelers punt to give Palmer back the ball at the 25-yard line with 1:43 left to play.
Four completions and 49 yards later, Janikowski put an end to things from 43 yards out.
"It feels good when you have to claw, and you're banged up, and you have to fight to get a win,'' Seymour said. "You hit it long enough, it's going to break open. I think it's a real confidence booster for everybody.''
Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace, who caught eight passes for 123 yards including a 22-yard touchdown, said, "If we want to be a Super Bowl-caliber team, we can't lose games like that. They made the plays when it counted, some real big plays at the end.''
With the gloom and doom having been wiped away with Janikowski's kick, Palmer is looking to better things.
"We're in a position where we needed to get a win,'' Palmer said. "We have one more game and then the bye week. We want to get to 2-2. I played against (Pittsburgh) a bunch and there is no easy win, there is no pretty win. It's a physical fist fight for four quarters every time you play them.''
Dennis Allen takes his first NFL coaching victory in stride. Page 10
Darren McFadden breaks loose, running for a 64-yard touchdown. Page 9
Utilizing the no-huddle offense, Carson Palmer directs crucial scoring drives. Page 10
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Raiders (1-2) at Denver (1-2), 1:05 p.m. CBS