There's something special about Monday Night Football, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers were involved in the Week-5 installment of the NFL's prime time game. With the Steelers and Chargers each entering the game with a 2-2 record, both teams were looking to keep pace with two undefeated teams in their respective divisions. The Denver Broncos (5-0) in the AFC West and the Cincinnati Bengals (5-0) in the AFC North.
The Steelers got the football to start the game and, despite a big play to Heath Miller from Michael Vick, the drive, which included the Steelers running the Wildcat formation with Le'Veon Bell, stalled at midfield and the team gave the ball to Philip Rivers and the Chargers at their own 16-yard line. It was from this spot that the Steelers' struggles against opposing tight ends emerged again, but this time it wasn't Rob Gronkowski, but Antonio Gates.
The Chargers drove quickly down the field and cashed in on a Rivers-to-Gates touchdown pass, giving San Diego a 6-0 lead. A Josh Lambo point-after gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead with 9:50 left in the opening quarter.
The Steelers' second possession ended in a similar fashion to their first. After one first down, this time without any Wildcat plays, the drive stalled and led to a Jordan Berry punt, his second of the game. The Chargers started their second drive at their own 24-yard line but, after a holding call on 2nd-and-9, would have to punt the ball back to the Steelers without putting any points on the scoreboard.
The Steelers started their third drive deep in their own territory after an Antwon Blake holding call pushed the line of scrimmage to their own 14-yard line. Antonio Brown finally got involved in the game with a big catch and run on 3rd- and-5 to move the football to the Chargers' 45-yard line. A holding call on Le'Veon Bell in pass protection put the Steelers in an unfavorable down-and-distance situation and the drive stalled at the Chargers' 41-yard line. Another Jordan Berry punt ended with a fair-catch interference call on Shamarko Thomas, giving the Chargers favorable field position to end the first quarter.
The Chargers first drive of the second quarter resulted in zero first downs and, not to be outdone, the Steelers followed suit with their first drive of the second frame. The penalty-riddled game continued with the Chargers deep in their own territory after a personal foul on the Jordan Berry punt.
The special-teams penalty theme continued on the ensuing Chargers punt, with a Jordan Todman illegal block in the back. Mid-way through the second quarter, the Chargers and Steelers combined for seven special-teams penalties.
The Steelers' next drive was the Le'Veon Bell show, as Bell single-handedly moved Pittsburgh into field goal position with several quality runs on the drive. The Steelers didn't throw a completed pass and the drive ended in a 47-yard field goal by Chris Boswell, much to the sarcastic cheers of Steelers fans in attendance in Southern California. The Boswell kick made the score 7-3 with 4:24 left in the first half.
The Steelers' defense stood tall with a Jarvis Jones sack of Rivers, his first of the season, and forced a 3-and-out with 2:36 left in the half. After another special-teams penalty on the Steelers, this one a holding call on Darrius Heward-Bey, the Steelers started their drive at the 26-yard line. A heavy dose of Le'Veon Bell got the Steelers into Chargers' territory, but yet another promising drive stalled and resulted in another Berry punt.
With 1:26 left in the half, Rivers and the Chargers' offense took over at their own 7-yard line and were able to move the ball into the outskirts of Josh Lambo's range, but he missed a 60-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half. Vick's "Hail Mary" pass was intercepted to end the half and the Chargers took a 7-3 lead into the intermission.
The Chargers started the second half in the hurry-up offense and moved the ball with the running game, but at midfield rookie running back Melvin Gordon fumbled. The Steelers recovered the ball and had their best starting field position of the game at the Chargers' 48-yard line. But the Steelers squandered this field position and the turnover when they ran the ball three straight times to go three-and-out and had to send Jordan Berry on the field for another punt.
The Steelers' defense continued to pressure Rivers, and a Bud Dupree sack thwarted the Chargers' drive and forced San Diego to punt. The sack was Dupree's first of the game, and the third on the season for the rookie first- round draft pick. Pittsburgh's offense continued to struggle, as Michael Vick failed to gain a first down, this time with several incomplete passes. Thankfully, Steelers' punter Jordan Berry was having a great night and pinned the Chargers inside of their own 5-yard line.
Rivers then led a drive into Pittsburgh territory but Antwon Blake intercepted his pass and ran it back 70 yards for a game-changing touchdown. It was the Steelers' second forced turnover of the game and the Chris Boswell point-after gave the Steelers a 10-7 lead with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
Rivers responded with a tremendous drive of his own, resulting in a Josh Lambo 40-yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 with 14:49 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Pittsburgh offense continued to struggle, and another 3-and-out gave the ball right back to the Chargers with 13:52 left in the game.
Rivers turned solid field position into a go-ahead scoring drive, as the Steelers continued to struggle covering tight ends. Rivers hit Antonio Gates for his second touchdown of the night to reclaim the lead 17-10 with 8:02 left in the game. The Steelers' offense struggled to simply gain a first down, let alone gaining enough to come back from a significant deficit.
After a Dri Archer kickoff-return near the 30-yard line, Michael Vick responded by silencing his critics on the first play from scrimmage with a 72-yard double-move bomb to Markus Wheaton for a touchdown. The Boswell extra point tied the game at 17-17 with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter. The play marked the second touchdown for the Steelers in the half, yet the offense still had failed to gain a first down at that point.
The Chargers took the ball and continued with their no-huddle offense to move 44-yards into field-goal range. On a 3rd-and-8 play, Lawrence Timmons batted down a Rivers pass, but Josh Lambo nailed a 54-yard field goal which gave the Chargers a 20-17 lead with only 2:56 left in the game.
Michael Vick, galvanized by the big play on the previous drive, drove the Steelers to the goal line with only five seconds left in the game. Rather than going for a game-tying field goal and send the game into overtime, the Steelers ran the Wildcat with Le'Veon Bell, who initially appeared to be stopped but kept his feet moving and lunged for the touchdown. The play would be reviewed, but it would stand as called and the Steelers won the game 24-20 and moved their record to 3-2. They will host the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field in Week 6.