And just like that, the Silver and Black are 2-0.
For the first time since 1984, the Raiders start their second-straight season 2-0 after Sunday's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-17. This is their fourth win in their past five matchups against the Steelers as well.
The Raiders' success against the Steel Curtain was largely in part due to the man under center. Derek Carr picked up the road win in a hostile Heinz Field, playing some of his best football to date. This win now makes Carr 2-1 all-time vs. the Steelers, with a total of 1,005 yards and eight touchdowns across the three games.
On a sunny day in Pittsburgh, Carr threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns with a 75 percent completion rate, and now with Carr topping 400 passing yards last week against the Baltimore Ravens, his 817 passing yards this season are the most in a two-game span in Raiders history.
And none of this is new to Coach Gruden, who has been confident in Carr's abilities since coming back to the Raiders in 2018.
"I just let his performance speak for itself," Gruden said. "I've been clamoring about Derek Carr since I've been here. Hopefully he gets some recognition for doing what he did today. He had some long drives; he was big again at the end of the game against two great defenses two weeks in a row. And it's a big reason why we've been able to win."
Carr's ability to throw the ball on the Steelers was vital, considering the lack of a run game. The Raiders had 52 total rushing yards against the Steelers, with nine of those yards coming from Carr himself. He distributed the ball efficiently, connecting on passes with eight different receivers. The veteran quarterback gave credit to the stout Steelers defense and was satisfied with the success the Silver and Black were able to have against them.
"You're missing a superstar in [Josh] Jacobs, the O-line is banged up and all these kind of things. The AFC North, they want to stop the run," said Carr. "So I knew we would have to throw it to have a chance to win ... but I'm very proud of our guys."
We've started 2-0 before, but we have to keep going, and we can't let this thing go downhill. Derek Carr
Carr playing at high level isn't unusual to anyone who has been paying attention — he's thrown for over 4,000 yards the past three seasons. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson stated last week that what has made Carr an underrated quarterback in this league is his win-loss percentage over the past few seasons. With the Raiders rejuvenated by their new-look defense under Gus Bradley and the weapons around Carr in Darren Waller, Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards, he wants to continue to dispel any naysayers the Silver and Black had coming into the season.
"All of that preseason stuff, none of that matters. That's the beautiful thing about football. I say it all the time, 'You still have to put the ball down'. You still have to play. And whatever team put the work in and is on their stuff and is on the details, that's the team that's ultimately hopefully going to end up winning...
"We haven't done what we've wanted to do the last couple of seasons. We haven't been to the playoffs since 2016. I don't blame that thought process, but at the same time, as a competitor you're just like, 'I don't care about any of that, just put the ball down and let's see if we can turn these into wins.' We've started 2-0 before, but we have to keep going and we can't let this thing go downhill. Keeping the mindset, staying in the process, staying in the channel – those are all the things that matter."
A play that helped put the game away for the Raiders was a long ball to Ruggs at the beginning of the fourth quarter that gave the Raiders a 23-14 lead. Ruggs ended the game as Carr's leading receiver with five catches and 113 yards to go along with the touchdown.
"It was a moon ball. He threw it up and I just had to run and go get it and do whatever I had [to do] to make the play," Ruggs said. "[Carr] came out and helped us win the game."
If Carr leverages that arm talent and continues to help the Silver and Black win games, he could very well find himself in the MVP conversation down the stretch.
View photos from the Raiders' Week 2 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.