Keenan Allen got things rolling early with a 14-yard reception working out of the slot. The first run of the night went to Austin Ekeler who had nowhere to go. Going no huddle, Rivers hooked up with Allen for another 1st down on a short catch and run. Following that play, Whisenhunt elected to waste a carry on Travis Benjamin. Then they wasted another play on Benjamin, this one was a pass behind the line that he would have been better of dropping. Allen was short of the sticks on 3rd down by about the distance that Benjamin lost on the previous play. Almost inevitably, Michael Badgley missed a 52-yard field goal attempt on 4th down.
James Conner was bottled up on his first carry of the game, but Antonio Brown moved the chains on the next play. Brown beat Casey Hayward on the following play for a huge gain setting up 1st & goal from the 1-yard line. Conner, of course, punched it in on 1st down.
A short gain by Ekeler on 1st down was followed up with Rivers taking a big sack on 2nd down. On 3rd & 19, Rivers threw low and behind Allen and was lucky not to get picked off. Donnie Jones’ punt was fair caught on the Chargers’ side of the 50-yard line.
Conner picked up about 4 on a screen to star the drive. Antonio Brown continued to be uncoverable converting another 1st down. Pittsburgh got cute with a fleaflicker, but the secondary was not fooled and Roethlisberger threw the ball out the back of the end zone. Michael Davis absolutely mugged Ryan Switzer in the end zone without ever turning around. Defensive pass interference gave the Steelers another 1st & goal from the 1. It took two tries, but Conner punched it in again.
Allen and Mike Williams both caught passes for 1st downs. And then the referees missed a blatant false start by Sam Tevi and Travis Benjamin caught a 40-yard touchdown pass.
The Steelers looked to be moving the ball again on their next drive picking up 1st downs through the air and on the ground. They were seemingly moving the ball at will. Then, Derwin James made a stop by the line of scrimmage. Then, he picked off a poor Roethlisberger pass over the middle.
The offense was unable to do anything with the James interception, though, and they ended up punting the ball away. The defense held strong, though, forcing a three-and-out.
The offense went three-and-out again, and then to top it off, Jones’ punt was blocked. The defense did a great job of holding the Steelers to a field goal attempt which Chris Boswell converted.
Two Keenan Allen receptions moved the sticks, but they were not able to sustain a drive and ended up punting again.
Aided in part by a terrible pass interference call, the Steelers marched 74 yards in 78 seconds to score another touchdown before half time.
The Steelers’ first drive of the second half ended in a punt, but it also burned over 5 minutes of clock and that may have been as meaningful as points given their 16-point lead.
Starting at their own 12, the Chargers engineered a 13-play touchdown drive that concluded with the most absurd touchdown you’re likely to see this year.
From there, the Chargers made it a one-score game by converting a two-point conversion with a pretty back corner of the end zone catch by future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates.
The Steelers gifted the Chargers a holding penalty on a screen pass to set up 2nd & long. Then, Joey Bosa finally got home to sack Roethlisberger. On 3rd & 29, the Steelers ran a give up play, then punted. Desmond King returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. The offense then came on to attempt a two-point conversion. This time, the throw went to Keenan Allen and it was another successful conversion.
With momentum on their side, the Chargers defense returned to the field. A pair of great plays by King and Adrian Phillips forced another Steelers punt.
On the Chargers’ next drive, it was the Justin Jackson show. Every time he touched the ball he was picking up big yardage whether it be a carry up the middle or a swing pass, he looked unstoppable. Finally, he scored from 18 yards out.
The Chargers defense continued to rise to the occasion, finally stopping the Steelers inches short of a new set of downs on 3rd & 10 after Melvin Ingram just missed what would have been a game-sealing sack. Mike Tomlin burned a challenge, but the ruling stood. Then, it came down to a 4th & inches attempt by the Steelers, and Conner just made it across the line to gain to keep their drive alive. Pittsburgh continued to roll after that, helped by a personal foul by Jatavis Brown. Conner appeared to injure his leg on another decent-sized gain, and Jaylen Samuels had to take over for him. A play later, Casey Hayward had to leave with an injury. A player after that, Samuels scored a touchdown.
The Chargers took back over on their own 25 after a touchback. They started the drive moving the chains at will. Allen and Ekeler both got in on the action early. Justin Jackson got back in the game and promptly rushed for 10 yards and a fresh set of downs. His next carry, his fifth, put him at 59 yards on the day. Ekeler made a mistake running out of bounds, but Allen bailed him out picking up a 1st down on the next snap. From there the Chargers forced the Steelers to burn their last timeouts and set up for a field goal attempt. They then ran the clock down to 3 seconds and called a timeout. Michael Badgley came on to attempt the game-winner.
Having already missed one kick tonight, Badgley missed wide left. The Steelers had jumped offside, though, so he got a second chance from 5 yards closer.
Now, having missed two, Badgley’s next attempt was blocked. The Steelers were clearly offside, yet again, however.
Now, having missed three kicks, Badgley lined up to attempt a 29-yard field goal, and it was good.