San Diego Chargers Finally Show up, Defeat Pittsburgh Steelers

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers won all three facets of Sunday's game against the Steelers and dominated the line of scrimmage all day. Nobody has any idea how this happened. FINAL SCORE: 34-24 Chargers.

For the first time all season, the San Diego Chargers looked like the team that fans and the media thought they would see all season. They leave Pittsburgh, a place in which they were previously 0-14 in the regular season, with a dominant victory.

The defense, following a brilliant gameplan drawn up by first-year Defensive Coordinator John Pagano, was brilliant. They lost Vaughn Martin early and were already missing Atari Bigby and Donald Butler. Yet, they were as good against the run as they've been all year and the pass-rush and secondary combined to keep the Steelers' passing attack in check even with the return of Ben Roethlisberger. They even had a few things bounce their way.

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Special teams was perfect. Mike Scifres punted 7 times, and 5 of those were down inside the Steelers' 20 yard line. That certainly helped San Diego to win the field position battle. Nick Novak nailed both of his field goal tries, one from 39 and another from 51 (just the fifth 50+ yard FG in Heinz Field history). You can ask for better than that, and the coverage unit was just as good as the kickers.

The offense, led by Philip Rivers (wearing gloves in a game for the first time that anyone can remember), was good enough. The makeshift offensive line was, surprisingly, really good. Philip Rivers was sacked just once and that one was a technicality (Rivers ran out of bounds and lost a half-yard). Rivers got to do what he does best, which is play the role as "game manager" and rely on the running game (which was good, but not great).

Norv called a lot of running plays, 33 (compared to 41 pass attempts) in total, which lead to much more 3rd & 5 plays for Rivers than 3rd & 10 plays. Under those conditions, he was able to find Antonio Gates, Micheal Spurlock and Danario Alexander for conversions. El Capitan finished with 3 TDs and zero turnovers, looking a lot like the old Rivers that had a working "clock" in his head that told him when to get the ball out of his hand.

The Chargers move to 5-8 and, with the Cowboys win over the Bengals, are still mathematically eligible to win the second AFC Wild Card spot.

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