PITTSBURGH – Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a pitch into the flat, and Steelers safety Mike Mitchell charged toward him with purpose.
The ensuing collision was violent, with the crown of Mitchell’s helmet driving into Murray’s head. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Murray went down hard and fumbled the football in Steelers territory.
Pittsburgh recovered, but failed to score on the ensuing drive. The play didn’t hurt the Raiders in the final score, but it may have lasting repercussions on the Raiders offense.
Murray was concussed on the play and did not return to the game. He should have to go through the NFL’s concussion protocol before being cleared to practice or play.
“When you lose someone who is a (quality) football player, it always hurts,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “It’s always next man up.”
The Raiders used a combination of Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale and a whole lot of passing after Murray went down, but remained efficient moving the football.
Being without Murray for a game or two could pose a bigger problem. They don’t have another back with his dynamic quality or efficiency running the football. He had 96 yards on 17 carries against the Steelers, good enough for 5.6 yards per carry. That’s the same number he’s averaged over the last three games, when the running game has really taken off.
The running game could lose steam without Murray or Rodney Hudson. The star center, who has been an MVP up front this season, suffered an undisclosed injury in the fourth quarter and did not return. His status remains unknown, but losing him for any stretch would be a big blow.
The same can be said for Murray.
“Latavius is a tough guy and will battle back as soon as he can,” right tackle Austin Howard said. “I don’t know the extent of the injuries we have, but I know a few guys took some licks tonight. We’ll be in the treatment room and hoping the guys can get back on the field next week.”
Woodson toughing it out: Count safety Charles Woodson among the Raiders playing through pain. His right shoulder is causing significant problems, and has made arm tackling difficult for the safety. Woodson continues to play through the injury, which has helped keep a banged up secondary together.
Brown’s big numbers: Steelers receiver Antonio Brown posted a career-high 284 yards on 17 catches, including a 54-yard catch and run that set up the Steelers’ game-winning field goal.
“That’s pretty amazing,” Woodson said. “All you can do is say wow.”
Even an opposing receiver has respected for those numbers. Michael Crabtree immediately asked how many targets he had. The answer was 23 of 50 passes were aimed at Brown.
“That’s amazing,” Crabtree said. “Man. He’s a really good player.”
He ran an inside slant on the 54-yard play on the final drive, and lost cornerback David Amerson in a pick play designed to knock him off the route.
“He did a slant from the outside, and I got caught in the rub and there was no one inside,” Amerson said. “I didn’t make a play there.”
Big Ben goes down: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a foot injury in the fourth quarter and was carted from the sideline to the locker room. Early reports say he has a foot sprain that could keep him out several weeks.
Roethlisberger reached some milestones during this game, passing Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana on the all-time list for career passing yards.
Other notes: Amari Cooper set a franchise record for receptions by a rookie receiver, previously set by Tim Brown in 1988. …Quarterback Derek Carr threw for four touchdowns on Sunday and has 19 on the season, the most by a Raiders quarterback through eight games since the 1970 NFL merger. He is the third Raider to have consecutive games with four touchdown passes. …Receiver Michael Crabtree had seven catches for 108 yards, which marks the third time in eight games he has exceeding triple digits in receiving yards. …Carr has been sacked just 10 times this season, the lowest Raiders total through eight games since the NFL merger.