Derek Carr has had two memorable games against the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In 2015, the two teams engaged in a track meet that wasn't decided until Chris Boswell hit the game-winning field goal with two seconds left to secure the 38-35 victory. Three years later, Carr and company rallied to defeat the Steelers in a wild game that ultimately contributed to the Steelers missing the playoffs.
Carr will face the Steelers for the third time in his career Sunday on CBS (stream on Paramount+), as the 1-0 Raiders will travel to Pittsburgh to face the 1-0 Steelers. Carr, who spent time with Roethlisberger at the 2017 Pro Bowl, is appreciative to once again share the field with Pittsburgh's veteran quarterback. He also raved about the tangible and intangible skills that have helped make Roethlisberger a future Hall of Fame quarterback. During their season-opener in Buffalo, Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh's offense shook off a slow start to put together four scoring drives in the second half of a 23-16 win.
"Ben is unbelievable at extending plays," Carr said earlier this week. "I don't know if he would win a foot race with the guy that we played this past week (Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson), but Ben is someone that I've admired from afar forever. He's a great talent. I was able to be at one Pro Bowl with him, so I got to ask him a lot of questions. Just kind of listen and learn. He's a Hall of Fame quarterback; who wouldn't take the opportunity to try and learn from that guy? I just sat there and I listened to how he talked to his team and the players that he had there with him and communicating with his coaches.
"He's unbelievable at extending plays in the pocket. … He's crazy accurate. He's not afraid to take chances. You've seen that throughout his whole career, and he's gotten a couple rings out of it. He's one of the best quarterbacks in our game, still. You hear in the offseason, 'Is he done?' I'm like, 'I watched the film, I hope he's not done.' The guy is unbelievable. He's playing at a high level. So our guys, I hope they'll be ready, because he's one of the best to do it."
Carr has also established himself as one of the NFL's top-tier quarterbacks. Carr's skillset was on display during the Raiders' win over the Ravens on Monday night. In overtime, Carr -- under heavy pressure which caused him to throw off his back foot -- hit receiver Zay Jones for the game-winning score, as the Raiders completed an impressive comeback victory. Carr lit up the Las Vegas sky to the tune of 435 yards and two touchdowns on 34-of-56 passing.
The Raiders' offense will have their work cut out for them Sunday. Pittsburgh's defense, the No. 3 unit in the NFL last season, held the Bills' high-octane offense to just 16 points in Week 1. The unit was once again led by outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who had two sacks and a forced fumble of Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
"He just doesn't stop," Carr said of Watt, the NFL's reigning sack champion. "Just like his brother. Those two guys, whenever you play them, you know you're in for a fight for the whole down. They're going to fight and claw and do everything they can to get to you. Whether you hold [the ball] for one second or hold it for eight, they're not going to stop. … You can tell [the Steelers' defense] is a very unselfish group. Whoever makes the play, they're all celebrating each other. You can tell that that bond is special because they all know that they all can eat because that guy did his job. It's fun to watch from afar.
"Admire [Watt's] game, but an exciting challenge for us also to go against him. He got his new contract, and he deserves every penny. That's easy to see. But it's also fun to compete against the best."
Carr quickly jumped in when a reporter began asking him about his reverence for the Steelers-Raiders rivalry, a rivalry that dates back the 1970s, when the two teams met in the playoffs each year from 1972-76.
"The ball touched the ground," Carr said, alluding to Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" that abruptly ended the Raiders' 1972 season while simultaneously jumpstarting the Steelers' dynasty. He said he is appreciative that he is part of the rivalry's history, a rivalry that will have a new chapter added to it Sunday at Heinz Field.
"We've had our fair share of battles in my career, too, which is fun for me to have a part of history in that rivalry," Carr said. "You grow up and watch all the NFL Films videos. You grow up and watch Rich Gannon and you watch Terrelle Pryor take a 90-yarder down the middle right before I got here. There's so many memories of plays like that. At the home game [in 2018], we throw a touchdown to Derek Carrier and they throw a hook and ladder, just some crazy stuff. … Memories of throwing to [Michael] Crabtree to tie it up [in 2015]. Antonio Brown going for 300 yards or whatever he had that day and watching Charles Woodson chase him down at [39 years old]. Just crazy memories when you think about these two teams.
"I'm blessed that I get to live a life where I get to be a part of that. As a football fan, I'm honored that I get to even step on the field at Heinz Field and play against these guys. It's cool for me as a fan, but as a competitor you want to go out there and win the game."
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