The Pittsburgh Steelers scored a pair of touchdowns on their first two drives last night against the Los Angeles Chargers, and all of a sudden it felt like it was going to be one of those games. You know, like a Thursday night game, a blowout similar to the game against the Carolina Panthers earlier this year or the Tennessee Titans last season.
The tone turned sharply after the Los Angeles Chargers got a 46-yard touchdown on a play that should have resulted in a false start, yet they seemed to recover, well enough to ultimately get out to a 23-7 lead, a 16-point margin that should easily have been enough for a win.
And which always had been at home, before this game. As you might have noticed in a helpful graphic thrown up during the broadcast, the Steelers had a 220-0-2 record in games played at home in which they recorded a 14-point lead. That’s a lot of games, and a lot of wins.
Who would have thought tonight would be the night they finally get rid of the goose egg in that loss column?
The loss was their first in such circumstances since…wait, didn’t you read what I just wrote? This was the first time, ever, in the Steelers’ very, very long history that they have ever blown a 14-point lead while playing at home.
Given the uniqueness of the result, it should probably be no surprise that there were some oddities involved in the outcome, including on three of the Chargers’ four touchdowns. The first play should have been called back on an obvious hold that the officials acknowledge right after it happened, for starters.
Then there was a touchdown reception allowed on a play on which one Steelers defender collided with another who was likely about to intercept the pass in the end zone, only to see the ball pop up and be caught for a score instead. Finally, of course, was the punt return touchdown that directly benefited from a clear block in the back.
Even with all of that, the Steelers still could have and should have won the game. They let opportunities slip through their fingers, such as a Ben Roethlisberger pass that missed a wide open Justin Hunter that should have been an easy touchdown. The defense was dominated at the end of the game for the Chargers’ final two possessions as well.
And now because of a new first in franchise history, Pittsburgh is scrambling to save the present, clinging to the slimmest lead in the division possible. At the same time, Philip Rivers tied Peyton Manning for the most comebacks while trailing by 16 or more points, doing so for the seventh time in his career.