The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to get back to the win column after dropping a game against the Denver Broncos last week, who are now on a winning streak of their own. They didn’t get much assistance from other teams, and even the Baltimore Ravens are threatening again, winners of three straight. If Pittsburgh wins, they will only be the margin of a tie versus a loss ahead of them.
Marcus Gilbert remains out for Pittsburgh, but Matt Feiler returns to the starting lineup. Stephon Tuitt’s return is big as well, but both Morgan Burnett and Cameron Sutton are out. Marcus Allen, the rookie, makes his debut and reportedly should expect to play in the dime package. We’ll see how that works out. Bud Dupree is also active despite dealing with a pectoral injury, as is Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, who was activated from injured reserve yesterday.
The Chargers started the game with the ball at the 25. Tuitt got pressure, but Philip Rivers completed to Keenan Allen for 14. Vince Willliams made the tackle in the backfield of Austin Ekeler. Rivers hit Allen with a head of steam for another first down across midfield.
Travis Benjamin slipped on an end-around for no gain. He was held to no gain on a screen pass on second down. Now third and long just outside the Steelers’ 40, Rivers completed again to Allen, but short of the first down. A 52-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Beginning from the 43, the Steelers’ first play from scrimmage was a two-yard rush by James Conner. Ben Roethlisberger completed to Antonio Brown for nine yards for a first down. The pair hit for a big gain for 46 down to the one on the third play of the drive, Brown beating Casey Hayward. On first and goal from the one, Conner punched it in for the score, his 11th rushing touchdown and 12th overall, which is now more than Le’Veon Bell ever had in a single season.
On the second play of the Chargers’ second drive, Terrell Edmunds brought Rivers down for a sack, the first by a defensive back by the Steelers this year. Now third and 19, Rivers was under pressure again and Mike Hilton nearly picked off a low pass. Following a punt, the Steelers’ second drive will begin from the Chargers’ 48.
A screen pass to Conner on first down was limited to a few yards. A quick hitter to Brown moved the ball to the 32. A sloppy flea-flicker fell incomplete in the end zone intended for Justin Hunter. Back to the ground, Conner picked up about four yards, setting up a third and long. Roethlisberger bought time under pressure before firing deep to Ryan Switzer in the end zone. The pass was incomplete, but drew a defensive pass interference, setting up another first and goal from the one.
Back to Conner at the goal line, the second-year back was stopped for no gain on first down. He virtually walked in on second down for yet another two-touchdown game, giving him 12 rushing touchdowns on the year. Chris Boswell missed the extra point, resulting in a 13-0 lead.
Following another touchback, Rivers fired a quick pass to Allen for a four-yard gain. Ekeler was stopped after one yard with L.J. Fort and Edmunds on the tackle, setting up third and five. A quick pass to Allen did pick up the first down, his fifth reception for 55 yards.
Ekeler was stuffed once again on the following play to the 40. Rivers found Mike Williams for about 15 across midfield for the second time in three drives. The Chargers got away with a blatant false start that resulted in a long touchdown instead to Benjamin. But that’s why you can never count on the officiating.
To start the ensuing drive, JuJu Smith-Schuster dropped a short, high pass that wouldn’t have gained much. Roethlisberger connected with Brown on second down for eight. On third and two, a quick pass to Smith-Schuster gave the Steelers a new set of downs heading into the second quarter.
Conner picked up seven yards for his longest rush of the game so far. Jaylen Samuels checked in for a handoff and a four-yard gain up the middle near midfield. Roethlisberger skied a pass to the tall but not 10-foot Justin Hunter to the left flat out of bounds. On second down, he found Smith-Schuster for eight yards, setting up a manageable third down. A high pass to Smith-Schuster out of the slot was snagged for the first down.
At the Chargers’ 36, a pump fake led to a short pass to Smith-Schuster that ricocheted incomplete. Jesse James could not hold on to a short pass over the middle, setting up third and 10 outside of field goal range. Naturally, it was Brown with the conversion for 14 yards, now at 89 for the game.
From the 22, off play action, Roethlisberger went back to Conner for the pass, but at his feet, and the back wasn’t even looking for it. A screen to Conner was stuffed at the line of scrimmage with a hard tackle by Derwin James. Roethlisberger floated up an ugly pass that was easily picked off by James.
Marcus Allen made an appearance to make a tackle on a swing pass on second and nine for a a short loss. On third and 10, however, Tyrell Williams made a tough catch in traffic, taking about three hits, for the conversion. Ekeler hit a wall and lost three yards on the following play. Allen dropped the second-down pass. Ola Adeniyi also made an appearance. Now third and 13, Rovers’ pass looking for Allen deep across the formation was just too long, incomplete, with Joe Haden in coverage.
Following a hold on the punt, the Steelers started their fourth drive from their own 11. Conner was limited to a short gain on first down. He got just a yard on a draw. Now third and seven, Roethlisberger threw short of the chains to Vance McDonald, making it fourth and one. Jordan Berry’s first punt was one of his best, staying in the field of play and bouncing back to the 17, a 63-yard net punt.
A swing pass to Ekeler started the drive with a six-yard pickup. The defense stood him up after about a yard on the ground on second down. Now third and short, Tuitt scored a batted pass at the line of scrimmage, knocking it back for an incompletion. Fort blocked the punt, giving the Steelers great field position.
On the first play of the drive, Roethlisberger had hunter wide open on a blown coverage, but he missed the 6’4″ receiver, who injured his hand in the process. The Conner draw picked up four yards. Roethlisberger threw to McDonald, who was well-covered by Derwin James, breaking up the pass. Boswell’s 48-yard field goal attempt, however, was good, making it a 16-7 game and a nine-point lead.
Following a touchback, Fort laced up Allen after a short reception of six yards. Another short pass to Allen went for eight, down to the two-minute warning. Dupree was held on the pass rush with no call on a pass that Sean Davis broke up for Antonio Gates. Cameron Heyward, a play after hitting Rivers, batted his pass at the line on second down. Now third and 10, Rivers’ pass was behind his receiver, incomplete.
An illegal block in the back on the ensuing punt pushed the Steelers back to the nine. Conner finally had a good hole to run, going for about 20. Great blocks from DeCsatro and Pouncey. A dumpoff to Samuels picked up just a handful as they used their first timeout with a minute to play.
Smith-Schuster broke a tackle on the sidelines for extra yardage to get down to midfield. A quick hitter to Ryan Switzer over the middle added five as the clock continued to run. Roethlisberger connected with Brown down the right sideline for another big catch for over 20 yards, taking a shot as he went out of bounds. The Chargers used a timeout in order to give the officials time to review the previous play, which determined that he only got one foot inbounds.
Now third and four, from the 45, Roethlisberger couldn’t connect with Smith-Schuster, but it drew another pass interference penalty. Down to the 28, Roethlisberger had all the time in the world to make the throw and found Brown in the back of the end zone for his 12th touchdown catch of the season, tying for the second-most in his career.