"The Bus" is still a very big part of the Pittsburgh Steelers ' offense.
Bettis rushed for three touchdowns and Jeff Reed kicked a 42-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining, lifting the Steelers to an exciting 24-21 season-opening victory over the Oakland Raiders .
A six-time 1,000-yard rusher with the Steelers, Bettis will see his role reduced after the club signed Duce Staley to be the featured back.
Bettis carried just five times, but three of those were one-yard TD runs that gave the Steelers a 21-10 lead entering the fourth quarter. Staley carried the running game, rushing for 91 yards on 24 carries.
"It felt good. You have to take advantage of your opportunities," Bettis said. "I knew going into the game that I would be a part of the goal line package."
"We did what we had to do," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said. "Duce (Staley) ran his tail off all day. Jerome came in and finished it off. By the time Jerome came in, they didn't want to see him because Duce kept pounding the ball."
Bettis last scored three touchdowns in a game on November 30, 1997.
But the Raiders were able to rally in the final period. Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 38-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter before Rich Gannon found Alvis Whitted with a 38-yard TD pass with 4:51 left. He found Whitted for the conversion, tying the contest.
Gannon went 20-of-37 for 305 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"We had some guys that cramped up at a lot of key positions," Gannon said. "It presented a bit of problem for us. We've got a lot of young people playing. I thought a lot of those young guys really stepped up."
The Steelers were able to recover as they used a nine-play, 54-yard drive, capped by Reed's field goal to spoil Norv Turner's debut as Raiders coach.
"I always tell myself before every extra point you could be a hero," Reed said. "You could win by one. It comes down to 21-21 with 10 seconds. That's like the idle situation at home. When your teammates get you in that position you have to come through for them."
"There are a number of things we talked about through camp. We just have to get better," Turner said. "Our team fought and competed. We fought back and had a chance to win. Things didn't work the way we wanted them. We had different people at places from where they had practiced."
Pittsburgh's Tommy Maddox went 13-of-22 for 142 yards.
Raiders wide receiver Jerry Rice , who had two catches for 22 yards, was upset with his playing time. "I'm just going to ride this out," said the NFL's all-time leading receiver. "I'm sure next week will be a better week. I didn't come here to watch and I'm sure they didn't bring me here to watch."