Walter Abercrombie gained 59 yards on a screen pass to set up the fourth-period touchdown that made the Pittsburgh Steelers the AFC Central Division champions today.
Lester Hayes of the Raiders finally caught Abercrombie at the one-yard line. But on the next play, Frank Pollard ran around his left end to provide the points that enabled the Steelers to upset the Los Angeles Raiders, 13-7, before 83,056 at the Coliseum.
"A lot of people wrote us off," said Abercrombie, who also caught a 13-yard pass and rushed for 111 yards on 28 carries. "This was the most satisfying game of my career."
If the Steelers had lost, Cincinnati would have won the title because of a better record in the division.
The Raiders (11-5) lost their chance to play next weekend's wild card game against the Seahawks in Los Angeles. Now, the Raiders will play at Seattle's Kingdome. The Steelers will play at Denver Dec. 29 or Dec. 30.
"We don't have any excuses," said Coach Tom Flores, whose Raiders had won four straight. "The Steelers needed this game very badly."
Having learned the Bengals had routed Buffalo earlier, the Steelers (9-7) held Los Angeles to 188 yards.
They preserved a 3-0 lead late in the third quarter when linebacker David Little stopped Marcus Allen on fourth and one at the Pittsburgh 21. That gave them momentum, too, and four plays later Mark Malone threw to Abercrombie from the Pittsburgh 40. Pete Rostosky's blook got Abercrombie loose as far as the one.
The Raiders got the ball back 40 seconds later, but veteran safety Donnie Shell intercepted Jim Plunkett's pass at the Pittsburgh 46.
The Steelers ran out the clock, but had some help in doing so. They had third and two at the Raiders' 46 with two minutes left and came up short on a running play. But Brad Van Pelt of the Raiders was offside, and the Raiders never got the ball back.
Defense end Howie Long of the Raiders didn't take the defeat as well as Flores did.
"I felt like a funeral director out there," Long said. "It was awfully quiet . . . Certain people were doing what they were supposed to do. And other people weren't.
"If they were a good team, they'd have had 40 points. They should have had 27 points; we gave them that many opportunities. It was an embarrassment to be a part of something like this . . . We ran across a team today whose desire level was around 103 (decibels) on the Seattle Kingdome noise meter. Ours was about 60 -- quiet conversation."
The Steelers had lost four straight road games by a total of nine points.
Los Angeles was assured of a wild card spot last weekend.