Raiders' Maxx Crosby not resting on Monday Night laurels heading to Pittsburgh

Maxx Crosby made a name for himself on the national stage, sacking Lamar Jackson twice on Monday Night Football. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Maxx Crosby's tour de force on ESPN's Monday Night Football was less than two days old and the ink on his AFC defensive player of the week award was barely dry.

So how did the Las Vegas Raiders defensive end commemorate the occasion?

"I already flushed the game," Crosby said with a shrug. "I'm already worried and I watched the Steelers' first game ... been locked in on them."

On a short work week, and with a cross-country trip to play in the NFL's early window on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS -- 10 a.m. on the Raiders' body clocks), Crosby has no time to rest on his laurels. Little desire to reflect on his two sacks, six tackles and league-high 13 pressures in Las Vegas' 33-27 overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens.

Because while his past 18-plus months of clean living, clean eating and sobriety translated onto the Allegiant Stadium grass against the Ravens and Lamar Jackson, he now faces a bigger, more stationary target in the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger. And if Crosby is looking for some more motivation -- not that he needs any -- all he has to do is look across the field in T.J. Watt, who also had two sacks in the wake of signing his four-year, $112 million extension.

"Obviously, [Ben's] not as athletic as Lamar Jackson -- Lamar is kind of like an anomaly -- but Big Ben's a great quarterback ... it's about us at the end of the day," Crosby said. "We've got to do what we've got to do no matter who we're playing. It all starts with get-off, playing with crazy energy, running to the ball, causing turnovers. That's never going to change.

"Big Ben's a hell of a player, he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, so we're definitely looking forward to it and I'm excited."

As is Roethlisberger, apparently.

Against the Ravens, Crosby benefitted from the pressure brought by bookend edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue. And while Crosby (47%) and Ngakoue (43%) had the Raiders' highest Pro Football Focus pass-rush win rates since 2014 (Khalil Mack has the next seven such marks), and Crosby's Pass Rush Grade (93.1) was tied for first in the NFL among all edge rushers in Week 1 (Ngakoue's 90.6 was fourth), Ngakoue is nursing a right hamstring injury. Plus, six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was lost for the season with a left knee injury.

It all seems to suggest the Steelers keying on Crosby.

"Progress is being made and hopefully Yannick is not as seriously injured," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of Las Vegas' improved pass rush. "I was pleased. At the same time, Pittsburgh gives you no reason to rejoice. You've got to move on and turn the page. We still have 16 regular-season games to go, so we got a long way to go on this journey."

It’s a trip Crosby, 24, has been on with a chip as big as the Strat Tower on the Las Vegas Strip on his shoulder.

"Since I was a kid, I never got anything handed to me, never had anything on a silver spoon," Crosby said. "I always had to work for everything I had. I had one [scholarship] offer coming out of high school. I was a fourth-round pick. I've been told what I can't do for a long, long time. My whole life.

"I love that type of motivation."

Especially when critics say he needs a break.

"Listen, I could play 1,000 snaps, I could play 2,000," he said. "It doesn't matter to me. If I'm in the best shape I can be in, I can play all day ... I felt great. Now I'm just trying to recoup my body."

For the record, he played 905 snaps last season and 62 against the Ravens.

A Day 3 pick out of Eastern Michigan in 2019 and the 10th defensive end selected -- fellow Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell was the No. 4 overall pick out of Clemson and was inactive against the Ravens -- Crosby's 19 career sacks are the most by any player in his draft class.

The key, Crosby said, is staying even-keeled in an oft-roller coaster-type season.

And it was his father Bryan, who coached him in pee-wees, who imparted a certain attitude in him.

"Don't be all bark and no bite," Crosby said. "My biggest pet peeve. That's one thing I can't stand -- people who consistently talk about it and talk about it but when, really, it's time to go and time to shine, you're quiet ... I want to go out there and show everybody, Look, this is what I'm about."

And not just on the field during a game. But during the week in the weight room and in meetings.

"If I'm going to say something in a game, they're going to have more respect for me," Crosby said. "If I'm a guy who's late every day and showing up and bulls----ing and not going full speed in practice and then on gameday I'm the big loud guy and talking, they're going to be like, 'I don't care what he has to say.'"

Crosby needs to be loud Sunday in Pittsburgh if the Raiders are going to have success. Because while Roethlisberger was 0-4 in Oakland, he is 2-1 against the Raiders in the Steel City.

And while he is a more stationary target, Roethlisberger's hair-trigger release could make that a moot point. Per Next Gen Stats, Roethlisberger was quickest to throw in Week 1 at 2.3 seconds and was the second-most aggressive passer, throwing into a tight window on 31.3% of his passes. As such, his average depth of target was just 7.1 yards, the 10th shortest in the league.

"Ben is unbelievable at extending plays," said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. "I don't know if he would win in a foot race with the guy we played last week, but Ben is someone I've admired from afar forever. He's a great talent.

"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 of rings out of it. He's one of the best quarterbacks in our game, still ... our guys, they'll be ready. I hope they're ready because he's one of the best to do it."

Paging Crosby, then.

"I still have so much room to grow, as a player and a person," Crosby said. "I'm going to continue to fight for everything the rest of my career and the rest of my life."

Continuing Sunday.