By Paul Wexler Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH — On a cold December day, the Raiders upset the defending Super Bowl champions on their home field, 27-24, and warmed the hearts of the Raider Nation. 

The Raiders rode the arm of quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns. Gradkowski, who was born in Pittsburgh and attended high school here, had the best day of his four-year NFL career.
“This is the top game,” Gradkowski said. “My past four years, some ups and some downs, and this is the most exciting game I have been a part of. I mean, that was exciting. I can’t even put into words what I feel. You always visualize the game going into it and you always picture yourself winning and doing good. That was good. That was exciting, and you couldn’t want it to end any better.”
On paper, this was a terrible match up that favored the Steelers. Their defense is one of the top overall units in the league. They are No. 1 against the run at an averaged of 74.9 yards a game.  

The Raiders statistically are the worst-passing team in the league. Yet, someone forgot to tell Gradkowski, who led the Raiders back from a deficit in the fourth quarter three times.

The 21 points the Raiders scored in the final 8 minutes, 21 seconds were more than they had scored in any game this season.

“That’s pretty cool now,” Raiders coach Tom Cable said of Gradkowski’s stellar effort. “You kidding me? You come home, his folks are in the stands, guys hung in there till the end and made big plays, big throws. Just a great job by him.”

The Raiders defense deserves a lot of credit for keeping the game close enough for the offense to come back and win. Two key plays kept the Steelers from scoring points and putting the Raiders in a hole they could not climb out of.

In the first quarter, after the teams traded field goals, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall broke a 60-yard run on a second-and-4 play that put Pittsburgh on the Raiders 14-yard line. Three plays later, the Steelers were faced with fourth-and-one at the 5. The Raiders held and got the ball back on downs.

Just before halftime, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberber was slicing up the Raiders secondary on his way to what looked like an easy touchdown. Raiders backup safety Hiram Eugene ended the threat with a spectacular grab of a Roethlisberger pass for receiver Hines Ward in the back of the end zone.

“Sitting back in the middle, Ben looks to his left, which is my right,” Eugene said. “He is looking for number 10 (Santonio Holmes) over there and guess he sees that he is covered, so he came backside and tried to go to Hines Ward. I read the release and I just broke on it.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin promised his team would “unleash hell” in December. Instead, he was disappointed in his team’s effort in its first such game.

“You know, not a lot needs to be said in regard to how that game ended,” Tomlin said. ”I’m not going to make any excuses for it. We didn’t make a play. We didn’t make a play to win that football game defensively.”

Raiders rookie receiver Louis Murphy had the best game of his young career. He finished with four receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns. One catch, in particular, stood out above the rest. Gradkowski, perhaps because he was hit as he was throwing, threw the ball up for grabs. Murphy outjumped two defenders, came down with the ball and kept alive the final drive.

“Yeah, it seemed like an eternity,” Murphy said. “It was up there forever. A lot of the leaders on the team just turned to me and said, ‘Murph, we need a big play, we need a big play.’ So, that’s all I can give credit to is my teammates. The team came out and played hard. I just wanted to go out and make some plays for the team.”

Gradkowski said he was thrilled that Murphy was on the field making plays for him.

“Louis Murphy went up and got the ball a couple times, and I was like, ‘Thank God, he caught that.’ ”

The Raiders were forced to use a makeshift line in the fourth quarter. Starting center Samson Satele left the game with a calf injury and was replaced with Chris Morris. Then, starting left guard Robert Gallery went out with a lower back injury and had to be replaced by offensive tackle Langston Walker, who had not played guard since the Monday Night game against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 22, 2003.

“The guys in there knew that I hadn’t been in that position,” Walker said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but coach Cable came over and asked me what I feel comfortable with and what I don’t feel comfortable with. I think he tried to protect me and ease me into it with the play-calling at first, and then, of course, the rest of the offensive linemen helped me smooth into things.”

The offensive line was good enough to protect Gradkowski and open enough holes for the Raiders running backs to gain the bulk of the team’s 109 yards. Led by Justin Fargas’ 63 yards on 15 carries, the Raiders ran enough to keep the Steelers defense honest.

The most significant part of this win maybe the shift in the locker room, as Gradkowski clearly has taken over as the offensive leader. A few players still are cautious when answering questions about who they like better running the offense, Gradkowski or JaMarcus Russell, but more and more players are warming up to Gradkowski’s high energy, take charge leadership style.

“Dude, he was great, man,” offensive tackle Mario Henderson said about Gradkowski. ”He was so in command. I remember one time, they were showing a play on the score monitor and I was just looking up to see, did I do the right thing or not, and Bruce was like, ‘Stop (expletive) looking at the thing and get your mind right.’

“I was like, I looked at him at first like, ‘You talkin’ to me?’ Then I was like, ‘You know what, I like that (crap.) I like that, man.’ He demands attention. That’s what you need as a quarterback in the league because I was like, ‘O.K., all right, Bruce, I like that. O.K., you’re fighting and I like that.’ Bruce was like, ‘Oh (crap). Fired up. Fired up for this job.’ And the pressure’s definitely on him. He has most of the pressure.”

Other players echoed the sentiment.

“Bruce is fiery,” Walker said. “He’s yelling at us, screaming at us, running around like a banshee, but it’s all controlled. That’s how he gets it done. You saw the result.”

The Raiders (4-8) return home to face the Washington Redskins on Sunday, as they try to avoid double digit losses for the seventh year in the row.


  1. raidernate says:

    Andhistory repeats itself.Every year the Steelers have won the Super Bowl we beat them the following year 6-0.Great job today Bruce keep it up we don’t want to lose 11 games this year.We need to trade McFadden he is a horrible RB.

  2. jonpratt77 says:

    Great performance in the 4th quarter, this is what the team is capable of when they want to play. DHB hurt made way for Murphy. JRuss riding the bench made way for Gradkowski. Living in Steeler Nation, this will make the rest of the year a little more tolerable!! GO RAIDERS!

  3. jonpratt77 says:

    I agree with that raidernate. MeFadden just falls down on contact, gotta get Bush involved more and keep running Fargas. Although McFadden did get that first down for us

  4. dropius_heyward_bey says:

    Ok, two things really bothered me. Louis Murphy had a monster game, is he getting big headed? NO. He thanks his team mates and the supporting cast. DHB had the Russell Syndrome. Play like Garbage and think you’re helping out the team by drawing out coverage. Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than for DHB to be a breakout in this league and prove my name wrong. But if you notice all our big money players aren’t doing anything, and all our players making little to nothing compared to the #1 picks got us this win. Did you know that Gradkowski is the LOWEST paid QB on the roster??

  5. dropius_heyward_bey says:

    It really made me feel good when the O-Line was saying Bruce was getting in their faces. Just like when Lechler said that Gannon wasn’t the most liked in the locker room, but he was the most respected… and you saw the results. Very uplifting.

  6. Jon says:

    raidernate and jonpratt77, I couldn’t agree more. What’s sad is that Mike Mayock of NFL Network said the exact thing two years ago when McFadden was coming out. He had Mendenhall rated higher because McFadden’s legs went “dead on contact”. The guy hit the nail on the head. McFadden is tough if he can get his pads into you, but if you hit his legs, he’s done.

    Either way, great game today all around. Even Russell, who looks way too tenative returning kicks had one decent return. Possible two in a row with Washington coming to town. Not a gimme though, they are looking tough too.

  7. dswift01 says:

    Now the big question is can they bring the same focus and intensity next week, or will they fall flat like they have after every other win this year.
    If bruce has anything to do with it I think they will be OK.
    Consistency is the next step for this team

  8. whyAlwhy says:

    Oh cut the crap with this McFadden nonsense. Newsflash: We haven’t had a good team the past few years, don’t tell me McFadden is the reason why. We could have Adrian Peterson back there and he’d still have trouble on our roster. McFadden can do a lot more than we’ve seen and know about. He needs to be completely and healthy and have a game plan that uses him in the slot and more quick pitches. He’s not Fargas. He’s not, and can’t, throw himself into a hole and get nailed like a crash dummy. He’s a speed guy. Jesus you guys find something to complain about every week. How bout you shut the fuck up and enjoy the win. He’ll come around.

  9. whyAlwhy says:

    And all of the sudden these guys on the NFL Network have credibility? I didn’t know they had time to provide intellectual insight in between bashing every Raider that has ever worn the uniform. Stop it. Mayock, just like Kiper, plays the guessing game. Pretty sure Marques Colston was drafted in the 7th round…shit…so was Schillens. Guess those guys just missed two stud WR’s at the combine huh? Stop it. Go blow your Mayock bullshit up someone elses ass.

  10. EdMazeing09 says:

    just wanna say thanks 2 JAmarcus Russell for giving me his gloves 2day b4 the game and love to morrison & howard & jayson for takein some pictures with me just some of the resons ima raider 4 life even tho i live in PA!!!

  11. makoa says:

    @EdMazeing09 thats whats up far as dmac hes an outside runner their going to have to use him like the saints use bush put him at KR use his spped hes not and inside the tackle runner big win for the nation Grad led us in this one with 21 pts in the 4th QT way to go hes our new QB of the future believe it or not just like Gannon hosteler etc jfat is gone RAIDERZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  12. mandm8112 says:

    I said this after the cowboy game, this gradkowski led raider team wasnt ready for the blitz pressure up front. Gradkowski is to small in the pocket and a team like the cowboys wit there big tall d line and LB’s, they just werent ready. SO I wasnt mad that they lost last week… That just shows what kind of QB we got now, hes a smart QB that can grow each game. Went from a strong cowboy d one week and plays bad, then goes the next week and has an awesome game vs a just as strong pit D. I understand that this move couldnt have been down earlier since this team had a lot invested in russell but better late then never. Also thank god they didnt keep Garcia cause after watchin Bruce play, they look the same…They play just like each other.. All Heart and drive to find the way to win a football game. But ill take bruce at a younger age then Garcia at his age.

    This team looked great today.. Bruce is 2-1 since he got the starting job and we can see such a huge difference. If this move was made earlier the raiders would be right in the middle of the playoff race. The D shows a lot of life, they make stops but they still give up those big plays at times. If they keep playing bend but dont break D and keep the O with in range then we could have a good finish to the end of the season. Washington at home next week then cle, den, and baltimore… All beatable teams and the raiders have a chance to spoil some teams dream of the playoffs…. After today, Im excited to see what happens for the rest of the season and hopefully this gets al to realize he might to go back to the recent past and build his team around a small arm, Fiesty Qb and not the big arm no brain type… Watching that 4th Qtr all i could keep seeing was another version of rich gannon. Gannon would have threw those deeps balls better then Bruce deep today but Bruce fought and found a way to win like Gannon use to Do for us…..

    Sorry this is so long… Cant help it, Im just pumped bout what was such a Great win today. LETS ENJOY THIS RAIDER NATION…. It was a big win to get us started for that final push to the end of the season so hopefully they can show this same fight next week and beat the hell out of washington. yeah they played good today vs the saints but they were at home next week they come to the BLACK HOLE!!! Lets see how Jason Cambell feels there, so lets show up and give him hell…. RRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDDDDDDDDEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSS……

  13. PROVO says:


  14. spwn474 says:

    if you all look at gradkowski stats as of starting he is starting to get comfortable and passing yards are even getting more his first week he had a 100 something dallas game he 200 something and this week he got 300 something so i think we got are self a QB

  15. rodeosnake12 says:

    i will tell you what makes bruce so special. look at his 4th quarter play. when he came in agaisnt the chiefs, he led us down for a chance to win and bey had hell. cincy game same thing. he was 13-20 158 and a td in the second half agaisnt dallas and drove us down the final 2 minutes when murphy dropped a td pass to make it 14-24. and then lok at this pitt. game, he just brings it at the end of the game and as a starter has 6 tds to 1 int! if he can work out with brees in the ofseason, this guy is gonna be a top 10 kinda qb in the league if we get better in other areas. we fixed our qb area now lets fix some other key spots. FUCK YES RAIDERS

  16. idahoaklandraider says:

    didn’t get to watch hope they replay sometime this week.great birthday though, surrounded by steeler fans. thank you oakland

  17. raiderlization1 says:

    Stop the talk of trading DMAC and use him like Reggie Bush! He was not drafted to run over anyone just out run. So put him in a slot or wide and spread the feild take a saftey out of the box and help Grad! Don’t want to trade him we need to run Bush and Fargas and Pass reverse and let him throw it! Go Raiders!

  18. raiderlization1 says:

    Easy thing to say is trade then someone else gets to use him right just Dum! We need to use him right! Go Raiders!

  19. SinCityRaider says:

    Always feels good when we beat one of the top five teams every Raider fans hate.

    1. Steelers
    2. Broncos
    3. Patriots
    4. Chargers
    5. Chiefs

  20. runraiderrun says:

    idaho,the game will be replayed on the nfl channel on Tuesday-8p.m.

  21. runraiderrun says:

    McFadden was smashing that steeler defense.him and Fargas will hurt you.McFadden is most similar to Jerious Norwood in Atlanta.same body,running style and always getting hurt.i always say use McFadden like Reggie Bush because Bush is the most well known.but Norwood fits McFadden,to a tee.thinking more about that,the raiders are probably most like Atlanta in that both teams have a McFadden type,both have a Turner type(Bush),both teams have one WR that is considered their best,both have o-lines that still need work,both teams have weak run defenses.the differences are they have a TRUE franchise QB,we don’t;Atlanta has a good coach,ours is marginal(tbd);they made the playoffs last year,we didn’t;they have a G.M.,we don’t.

  22. runraiderrun says:

    as far as total team talent compared to Atlanta,i think the raiders are’s the defensive scheme,the youth on offense,and the lack of a committed QB and the fact that we haven’t had a G.M. for years.otherwise,the raiders would be already in playoff mode.

  23. jonpratt77 says:

    whyAlwhy: I never said DMAC was the reason the team sucked. read what I wrote: he went down too easy, but he did get the first down based purely on speed. look at the steeler defense, they are strongest up the middle, kick DMAC outside and let his speed be to our advantage. you’re right, the reason the team has sucked the past few years is simple:

    1. Al Davis controlling the team
    2. How many head coaches have we had?
    3. Along with the head coaches changes, comes new offensive schemes. Get some stability on the coaching staff and give some continuity and see what happens.

    There’s talent on this team, that’s not in question. All I said simply is that I saw Bush on a handful of plays against the Steelers……have him bruise up the middle, DMAC out at slot or running outside and Fargas as a hybrid RB/WR for screens and change of pace back. Now tell me that wouldn’t work? This team needs to get more creative on offense to make plays.

  24. chucka1122 says:

    I have said this since the draft, Murphy outplayed DHB in college, and he continues to do it in the NFL. Hopefully DHB’s injury can keep him on the sidelines for the next couple of seasons so the Raiders can play the guys that can catch. The difference is so evident. Grad looked great, keeping plays alive with his legs, and not having the best 0-line. JBust and DHB have not earned the right to play, they only had that opportunity because of the big contracts. I just hope this teaches the Raider organization to play the better players regardless of where they were drafted. I just want the Raiders to win, and these players have earned the right to play. JBust and DHB are total busts, the sooner the realize this, the sooner the Raiders can move on.

    Good win for the Raiders…

  25. oldschoolraider says:

    Imagine where we would be if Al had listened to the knowledgeable fans earlier in the year and benched DHB and JR? Don’t look now, but our QB actually has a winning record, good stats and enthusiasm. Did you see him helmet to helmet with the DB after getting knocked out of bounds? Let’s see if Al puts DHB back in now. Got to admit, I think I was yelling at the tube more this game than any other, no pressure,no wrap ups, no coverage. And yet they held it together and pulled it out!Some bad ref calls that would have been made if the Raiders had done them, Hines Ward facemask! Networks commenting on how Steelers blew it and no props to the Raiders.

  26. WVRaiders says:

    Another game played on the East Coast and I was actually able to see it again. I begged my girlfriend to get me tickets to this game instead of anything for my birthday or Christmas, didn’t work and I kind of hate her a little for it now. That was an exciting game to watch and I agree with the assessment that Gradkowski plays a game very similar to Garcia (with a little Gannon mixed in, did you see that side arm throw down the middle?) And I’m not too worried about D-Mac. I think we just need to use him correctly, get some speedier Tackles to help him cut the ball to the corner where he has room to do what he does. I think if they give him a chance to return kicks we could see that spark that he creates. Maybe too much invested in him to just let him get hit on returns though.

  27. whyAlwhy says:

    @jonpratt77…You’re right, I jumped the gun a bit on your post, but you can’t blame this coaching staff. Can you blame Al, yes you can because he’s way too hands on. The last guy that came in and did it his way was Gruden and guess what, we had success. I feel like Cable has a good enough relationship with him to eventually get over this gigantic mountain. The first, and best, step was pulling Russell. As much as we don’t want to eat our pride and cut the guy, it has to be done. It isn’t that he doesn’t have the talent, he doesn’t have the work ethic or leadership skills. Read the quote from our OL yesterday where he grabbed his facemask and told him to get the hell in the game. That’s Gannon-esk. I’ve eaten my pride the last 6 years, and I have no problem cutting ties with an overweight cancer to eat it a little more. Bruce is stability. When we got Gannon from KC he was a backup behind Elvis Gerback (who?). I’m sure we were skeptical then. I’m not saying he’s Gannon, but he is a leader. And on the run DMC front, you’re right. He needs to be split out more and used more for his skill. Bush was in the Heisman running for a reason. He’s a true RB. We have so much goddamn talent. DHB will come around too, go watch his highlights on youtube.

  28. raidernate says:

    I understand McFadden is a speed guy.But you tell me what he does when he comes to contact a defender?Does he juke them,or does he try to run them over smart ass?He doesn’t fit his own running style.Some times you draft the wrong guy,and unfortunately the Raiders have done this to often lately.Great win.

  29. Raider Luvr says:

    I was happy when we drafted Dmac, but now I see that his style will not work in the NFL. He’s a speed guy. To be a successful speed guy in the NFL, you have to be running at FULL speed in 3-4 steps, Dmac takes 10-12 steps to get to full speed and has no side to side moves. When he tries to “juke” defenders, he trips over his own feet. He should absolutely be returing kicks and punts, he’s just a 3rd string back at this point and his number of carries says the Coaches think the same thing.

    Too bad….

  30. Raider Luvr says:

    Bush got his carries taken away from him after the fumbles….

  31. oaktownraiders says:

    I was never for drafting Darren Mcfadden,thought our offensive line had too many backup players on it to draft a speedy running back. In my opinion DMAC is a one demensional runner with some good intangables no doubt but drafting a one dimensional player at any position that high in the draft is way risky. Dont get me wrong I havent given up on DMAC and not calling him a bust at all but wish we had made a smarter draft pick at number 4 overall. Great play by Gradkowski in yesterdays game. So good to see a Raider QB suck it up in the 4th quarter and play with some heart. Its been awhile Raider nation since we have seen that kind of QB play. Im looking for a win next week against the deadskins for two in a row !!!!

  32. oaktownraiders says:

    I think your right Raider Luvr….from what Ive seen even when DMAC gets in the open field running with the ball he runs in a straight line and gets cut off and caught from behind. All great running backs had eyes in the back of thier heads and could hear the foot steps coming and take evasive action or at least juke the defender and keep running for the goal line. Running in a straight line in the open field will not work in the NFL.

  33. Oak14nd says:

    Hell no trade mcfadden r you crazy the raiders just don’t use him right we need too use hime like reggie bush for hiim to be productive and fargas before was just like mcfadden barly gets touched and falls he will get better.and bush should get a lot of carries too the got fargas in there right now cuzz he has way for heart then both bush and mcafadden and he plays every down 110 percent

  34. Raaaaaaaaaaiderrrrs says:

    I agree you guys are crazy saying trade McFadden. He does a LOT of things you don’t realize for this team. He motions out of the backfield and takes defensive players with him because they’re scared of his speed which opens up holes for other RBs and other WRs… As for his pure running back skills I haven’t seen many holes when he’s in the game. There’s times when Fargas gets the ball you can see 4 yards before contact would happen, you just arne’t seeing that right now with McFadden maybe because they run the best style of plays that they think will work with Fargas…

    But those of you who are saying to trade McFadden remember that you were saying that… Becuase i’m telling you right now in 5 years that guy is going to be a stud! And you will all be eating your words. DHB on the toher hand we saw what happens when he doesn’t play, other guys somehow are stars and DHB as well as Russell look like nothing backups who shouldn’t ever see the field for the Raiders. First game without DHB and it’s the best passing game of teh year by a LONG SHOT… Coincidence? Someone step on his foot again and lets see shall we?

    The D is solid, this team only needed an average NFL QB and they’d be solid, they’re 2-1 with an average NFL QB back there. Don’t give up on McFadden though you’ll all see, he’s going to be very good. he does NOT go down easy, did you see the first down where he lowered his shoulder and ran the guy over on third and two when they ran the toss the opposite way of the fake? He ran the guy over at the end, he’s learned how to run like an NFL RB, he just needs more chances, for now though I’m fine with how they use him, I would like to see a little more of him and Bush than Farags but if it’s working keep goin to it. But his future is going to be VERY bright.

  35. Raider Luvr says:

    “we need too use hime like reggie bush for hiim to be productive and fargas before was just like mcfadden barly gets touched and falls he will get better”

    Reggie Bush is a MAJOR bust…..he barely gets on the field for the Saints on 3rd downs and that’s it.

    Hopefully Dmac will get better, but when you draft somebody #4, you’re not supposed to have to wait for them to get better. Especially a running back.

  36. oaktownraiders says:

    Good running backs in this league cost a dime a dozen anymore and if youre going to draft one at number four he better be something very special not just a speed guy. Im not advocating trading DMAC but no way should a team have to wait 5 years for a running back of all positions to get good haha, thats non-sense. Hell in five years DMAC will be in his late 20s and on the downside of his career. Its the first 5 years is where a team should get the best out of a good young running back with a few exceptions of course.

  37. raidernate says:

    Wait 5 years.His contract will be in the final year then.He does not fit our zone blocking scheme,which is designed for a 1 cut and go.He just can’t run between the tackles to well.We have alot of money tied up in players WITHOUT production coming from them.And you mark my words Reggie’s days in N.O are about done,but they will find a sucker and steal a 1st round pick from them.And when it doesn’t work out than all of us will then say what a horrible trade.Just remember how many people told Charlie Casserlie he was crazy for drafting Mario Williams instead of Reggie Bush.Bottom line is D-Mac MIGHT come around but when you are as bad as us over the last 6-7 years we can’t afford to keep paying these players and get no production.

  38. raidernate says:

    P.S Part of being a good/great player in this league is staying healthy no matter how fair that sounds.

  39. social networking software…

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