The Pittsburgh Steelers had a nice winning streak going when they entered Week 12, but the Denver Broncos snapped that streak, and putting a small dent in the Steelers’ hopes of clinching the AFC North division early. With the Los Angeles Chargers in town for a Week 13 showdown on Sunday Night Football, that small dent could become a big dent if the home team didn’t get back into the ‘W’ column quick.
With this game carrying some serious AFC Playoff significance, it was the visiting Chargers who started with the football after the Steelers elected to defer their possession to the second half.
Philip Rivers and company were able to move the ball with ease to Keenan Allen, but when they entered enemy territory they were forced to attempt a 52-yard field goal, which sailed wide left.
The missed kick gave Pittsburgh tremendous field position, and Ben Roethlisberger took little time hitting Antonio Brown on back-to-back plays, the second being a 46 yard bomb to the one-yard line.
What happened next was a James Conner one-yard plunge to give the home team an early 7-0 lead after Chris Boswell nailed the point-after.
A Chargers three-and-out gave the ball back to Pittsburgh inside Los Angeles territory, and Roethlisberger did Roethlisberger things on the ensuing drive to get the Steelers to the one-yard line. With the pocket collapsing, keeping his head down the field, Roethlisberger targeted Ryan Switzer in the endzone, but he was interfered with giving the Steelers the ball at the one-yard line. James Conner did the rest, scoring his second touchdown of the game. However, Chris Boswell missed the extra point, making the score 13-0 with 4:41 left in the opening quarter.
In need of an answer, the Chargers found that in a deep shot to Travis Benjamin. What was shocking to the home team, and their fans, was the blatant false start which wasn’t called on that same play. Regardless, it wasn’t called and the Steelers’ lead was cut to 13-7.
Pittsburgh’s offense put together an impressive drive to start the second quarter, but as they entered field goal range, on 3rd and 10, Roethlisberger lofted an awkward pass intended for Vance McDonald which was intercepted by Derwin James, giving the ball back to the Chargers’ offense.
The Chargers were unable to turn the interception into points, and after both team exchanged punts it was L.J. Fort who got a piece of a Chargers punt setting up the Pittsburgh offense well inside Los Angeles territory. After Roethlisberger overthrew a wide open Justin Hunter, the drive stalled and settled for a 48 yard Chris Boswell field goal, making the score 16-7 with 2:40 left in the half.
After the Boswell field goal, the Steelers’ defense forced a punt, giving the ball back to Roethlisberger with 1:35 left in the half and all three timeouts remaining. With a good mix of run to start the drive, and pass to finish, it was capped off by a 28-year beauty of a throw from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown for the Pittsburgh touchdown.
Chris Boswell made the extra point, and the score read 23-7 heading into halftime.
A holding call on Ramon Foster killed the Steelers’ opening drive of the second half, and resulted in a Jordan Berry punt. What followed was the Chargers’ best drive of the game, but how it ended might have been the strangest aspect of the drive. In the red-zone, Rivers threw a pass intended for Keenan Allen, and looked as if it would be intercepted by Joe Haden. That is when Sean Davis, also playing the ball, hit Haden and the ball popped into the air and into Allen’s out-stretched arms.
After a successful two-point conversion, the Steelers’ lead was cut to 23-15 nearing the end of the third quarter.
A three-and-out by the Steelers led to a Berry punt, but Desmond King took it 73-yards to the house to make the score 23-21. The Chargers went for the two-point conversion, and Rivers found Keenan Allen for the successful conversion to tie the game 23-23.
When the Steelers needed an answer, they got anything but that. Instead, it was another punt followed by another Chargers’ touchdown. This time, it was more Rivers to Allen, but also some quality running and the touchdown gave the Chargers their first lead of the game, with the score 30-23 with 8:09 left in regulation.
The Steelers weren’t going to go down without a fight, and were able to put together a lengthy drive with timely third down conversions getting the offense into the red-zone. It was there James Conner exited the game with an ankle injury, but his backup Jaylen Samuels was able to catch a dump off pass and run into the endzone for the score. Boswell’s point-after tied the game 30-30 with 4:10 left in regulation.
Rivers was able to move the ball down the field with ease and put the offense in position for the game-winning field goal. When it looked as if the kicker missed the game-winning kick, the officials called offsides on Pittsburgh, giving him another chance which he didn’t miss.
The Steelers loss was their second in a row for the first time in 2018, and moves their record to 7-4-1 on the season as they now prepare for a Week 14 trip to Oakland to play the Raiders. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they continue their march through the 2018 season.