The Steelers defense smothered the Chargers running attack early, and this was before the 21-0 score forced Philip Rivers and company to go into pass-happy mode in hopes of getting back into the game.
Pittsburgh also continued their takeaway trend, recording three more takeaways giving them 15 on the season after 6 games. Just for some perspective here, the Steelers registered 15 takeaways for the entire 2018 season.
On offense it was James Conner who shouldered the load and carried the offense to victory. Conner ran hard, but was equally effective in the passing game as well. Conner tallied over 100 yards of offense, scoring two touchdowns.
Oh, and there was that Devin Bush kid who always seems to be around the football. Of the Steelers’ 15 takeaways, Bush has been a part of 6 of them in some way. While far from perfect, he is having a potential Defensive Rookie of the Year type season in the early goings of 2019.
This trio of players were dominant in the Steelers’ second win of the season, and the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) highlighted them and the job they did vs. the Chargers. Check out what they had to say:
This was about as conservative of a game plan as you’ll see in a 2019 NFL game. Devlin Hodges was the definition of game manager in this one, taking just a few shots on Sunday night that traveled further than 10 yards downfield. When asked to throw, Hodges spent much of the night getting the ball quickly into the hands of his playmakers – primarily James Conner – and put the honus on them to keep the offense moving.
Conner was asked to carry the load, and he did just that until a quad injury knocked him out in the second half. Conner was especially fantastic as a receiver, where he hauled in all seven of his targets and picked up crucial first downs on balls thrown to him short of the sticks, forcing one missed tackle after another.
Devin Bush recorded the first two turnovers for the Steelers, but neither of the plays required him to do a lot. One was a poor pass from Philip Rivers that went backward for a fumble, and the other was a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage that he intercepted.
T.J. Watt gave Sam Tevi problems all game long. He recorded a sack, three hits and also a batted pass. Watt showed his ability to win with speed consistently against Tevi.
It was fitting PFF talked about the game plan for Devlin Hodges, because it was as basic as possible. But the game also dictated this type of game plan. If the Steelers didn’t score a defensive touchdown, and a turnover which turned into a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Steelers might not have been able to just run out the clock, but rely more on Hodges to throw them to victory.
Not that Hodges couldn’t have gotten the job done if the game called for him to throw the football more, but this was the best-case scenario for the Steelers. Suffocating defense, timely turnovers, defensive points scored, touchdowns off turnovers and a game plan which equated in a win.
Can’t ask for much else, and now the Steelers head into the bye week hoping to get several injured players healthy before their Week 8 matchup on Monday Night Football vs. the still winless Miami Dolphins.