Duck, duck, duck, win!
Led by Devlin “Duck” Hodges, the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to pull off a surprising 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. With a strong running game and defense, the duck rarely did more than he was asked as the Steelers soared their way to victory.
Hodges would go on to become only the fifth quarterback in Steelers’ history to win their first career start, as he completed 15 of 20 passes for 132 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
With a rookie undrafted quarterback, the Steelers needed all the help they could get and Devin Bush made sure to deliver a ton of it. Few expected the Steelers to jump out to a 14-0 lead but that is exactly what they did as Bush recorded two turnovers within minutes of the open kickoff.
Bush first picked up a Rivers’ lateral pass and ran it into the end zone for a scoop and score. After recording his first sack and interception in consecutive weeks, the rookie linebacker notched his first defensive touchdown but he was not done yet. On the Chargers’ ensuing drive, Bush picked off Rivers after his pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Bush would injury his foot during the second quarter but would then return after halftime.
If Bush got the party started then James Conner would go on to be the life of the party as the running back pounded the Chargers defense on the ground and through the air. After Bush’s interception, the Steelers drove 40-yards into the endzone with Conner being responsible for all 40-yards. He would then double down on the ensuing drive as he capped off a 14-play, 86-yard drive by receiving a pass in the flat and scampering 26-yards into the endzone to give the Steelers a 21-0 lead.
The Chargers would begin to mount together a drive as the first half ended and looked to get on the board but kicker Chase McLaughlin’s 43-yard field goal bounce off the upright.
Benny Snell Jr. also joined in on the ground and pound action as he featured heavily on the Steelers’ opening drive of the second half. After a botched snap, the Steelers were forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal to go up 24-0.
After Conner got dinged up in the third quarter, Snell would receive majority of the handoffs and would finish with 75 rushing yards while Conner would finish with 41 rushing yards and 119 yards from scrimmage.
The Steelers made Phillip Rivers’ night a nightmare as the defense forced constant pressure right from the opening drive. Though the Steelers only recorded one sack, they did record five quarterback hits as they constantly rattled the Chargers’ franchise quarterback.
Hodges’ lone mistake of the night, an unnecessary deep shot to Johnny Holton led to an interception and Rivers’ first touchdown of the night. After the interception, Rivers orchestrated a 10-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with a five-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Henry that would make it a 14-point deficit with seven minutes to go.
Rivers would connect with Henry once again with just over a minute to go to cut the Steelers’ lead to 24-17. After the Chargers’ onside kick was recovered by Cam Sutton, the Steelers would be unable to run out the clock and gave the Chargers one last chance, though they would have to go 99-yards to tie. It only took two plays but Sutton would close this one out with an interception off Rivers.
A few injuries to keep an eye on as the Steelers leave the west coast is Stephon Tuitt’s pectoral muscle and Joe Haden’s groin injury. Tuitt left the game early with a pectoral injury and did not return while Haden left late in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers will head to the bye week tied with the Cleveland Browns at 2-4 in second place in the AFC North. They will return to action on October 28 to take on the Miami Dolphins at home on Monday Night Football.