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Heartbreaker: Steelers’ 4th Quarter Rally Falls Short In Primetime Loss To Chargers

Despite scoring 27 fourth quarter points, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ depleted defense couldn’t get enough stops and the Los Angeles Chargers took home a 41-37 win.

The Steelers settled for a field goal on their opening drive, which lasted 13 plays and took 6:31 off the clock. The Steelers couldn’t find much running room on the drive, with only 14 yards between RB Najee Harris and RB Benny Snell, but the Steelers converted two third downs and were aided by three Chargers penalties. After QB Ben Roethlisberger missed WR Diontae Johnson in the endzone on third down, K Chris Boswell knocked through a 36-yard field goal.

A second down hold against RT Storm Norton cost the Chargers 10 yards, but on third-and-14 Chargers QB Justin Herbert hit WR Mike Williams over the middle for a gain of 22 yards and a first down. Los Angeles moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory and picked up a first down to the Pittsburgh 28 on a run by RB Austin Ekeler a few plays later. A 17-yard completion to Williams set up the Chargers at the Pittsburgh 4, and a defensive pass interference against James Pierre on the next play set up Los Angeles at the 1. The penalty was the Steelers first defensive pass interference of the season. An illegal formation penalty took away a Chargers touchdown and made it first-and-goal from the Pittsburgh 6-yard line and Ekeler ran untouched into the endzone for a Los Angeles touchdown. K Dustin Hopkins’ extra point was good, and the Chargers took a 7-3 lead with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter.

A third down completion to WR Ray-Ray McCloud for a first down sent the Steelers into the second quarter at their own 48, and they got another first down three plays later on a two-yard run by Harris. On the next play, Roethlisberger connected with WR Chase Claypool for 37 yards to the Los Angeles 5. On third-and-goal from the Chargers 2, Roethlisberger missed Claypool and the Steelers went for it on fourth down. Roethlisberger’s pass was completed to TE Pat Freiermuth, but he was short of the sticks and the Steelers turned the ball over on downs.

The Chargers quickly picked up two first downs, and on third-and-six from their own 28, Herbert scrambled for 18 yards and another first down. Two plays later, Herbert ran for another 18 yards and then found WR Keenan Allen for 18 yards on the next play to the Pittsburgh 6. The Steelers pass rush finally got to Herbert on first down when he was sacked by OLB Alex Highsmith for a loss of four, but then Ekeler caught a 10-yard touchdown and the Chargers took a 14-3 lead after Hopkins’ extra point with 3:42 left in the first half.

The Steelers moved the ball well after McCloud returned the kickoff to their own 36. Harris opened up the drive with a 12-yard gain, and Roethlisberger made a beautiful pass to WR Diontae Johnson for a 22-yard gain two plays later. Another seven-yard gain by Johnson and four-yard run by Harris set the Steelers up at the Los Angeles 19, and Johnson capped off his impressive drive with a nine-yard reception and then a 10-yard touchdown reception. Boswell’s extra-point cut the Chargers lead to 14-10 with 1:09 left in the first half.

Two Steelers penalties proved costly as the Chargers marched down the field, as a defensive holding against S Karl Joseph took away a sack and then an offsides penalty took away another sack. The Chargers were able to pick up chunk yardage with a 14-yard completion to Allen, a nine-yard reception by Ekeler and a 10-yard gain by TE Jared Cook. On first-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 31, Herbert and WR Jalen Guyton hooked up for an 18-yard gain, but the Steelers defense held the Chargers to a field goal after Joseph broke up a pass to Ekeler. A false start against Norton made the Chargers’ 26-yard attempt a 31-yard attempt, but he still hit the field goal and the Chargers went up 17-10 going into the half.

On the Chargers opening possession of the second half, Herbert and Allen connected for a 30-yard gain on third-and-13, and then Allen gained another 14 on the next play. After a 12-yard rush by Ekeler, he took a dumb off from Herbert 17 yards for a touchdown. Hopkins made the extra point, and the Chargers took a 24-10 lead. The Steelers went three-and-out on their next drive, and Pressley Harvin III came out for the first punt of the game.

The Chargers started their drive on their own 26 but moved into Pittsburgh territory quickly. On third-and-five from the Pittsburgh 43, Herbert scrambled for 13 yards and a first down, picking up his 57th rushing yard of the night. The Chargers didn’t find the end zone on the drive, and Hopkins’ 46-yard field goal went wide but CB Cam Sutton was whistled for offsides. From 41 yards out, Hopkins was good and the Chargers took a 27-10 lead with 3:40 left in the third quarter.

The Steelers gained 28 yards on a third-and-two from their own 33 when Claypool took a crossing route into Chargers territory. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger’s pass was batted down on third-and-four, and Boswell made a 36-yard field goal and the Steelers made it a two-possession game at 27-13.

Pittsburgh forced a Los Angeles three-and-out, and offsetting penalties on Ty Long’s punt caused another play. Long’s second punt was blocked by S Miles Killebrew, and the Steelers took over at the Los Angeles three-yard line. On first down, Roethlisberger was incomplete to Harris, and a second down run by Claypool lost two yards. Roethlisberger’s third down pass was batted away. On fourth-and-goal, the Chargers were called for defensive pass interference in the end zone, and the Steelers got a new set of downs. From one yard out, Harris dove over the o-line for the touchdown and Boswell’s extra point made it a 27-20 game.

The Steelers had an opportunity to get off the field when Los Angeles faced third-and-five from the Pittsburgh 47, but Herbert scrambled for 36 yards and then DE Cam Heyward was flagged for unnecessary roughness. On the next play, Ekeler scored his fourth touchdown of the game from five yards out and the Chargers took a 34-20 lead on Hopkins’ extra-point.

The Steelers got the ball back with 8:48 left in the game, but Roethlisberger was sacked on first down. On second-and-19, Claypool gained 16 on a reception and the Steelers picked up the first after a four-yard completion to McCloud. Johnson picked up 32 yards on a third-down reception, and then TE Eric Ebron gained 18 over the middle. Two plays later, Ebron caught a five-yard touchdown pass and the Steelers once again made it a one-score game at 34-27 after Boswell’s extra point.

On second down of the Chargers drive, Heyward got a hand on the ball and batted it up in the air and it was picked off by CB Cam Sutton. The Steelers took over at the Chargers’ 11-yard line with a chance to tie the game. On first down, DE Joey Bosa was called for roughing the passer to give Pittsburgh a first-and-goal. Roethlisberger was incomplete to RB Kalen Ballage (who was filling in for an injured Najee Harris) on first down, but the Steelers converted on second down when Freiermuth scored a five-yard touchdown set up by a huge block by OT Chukwuma Okorafor.

The Steelers defense came up clutch, stopping Ekeler on fourth and inches from the Los Angeles 34. The Steelers gained seven yards on a James Washington catch to make it third-and-three with 3:34 left in the game. Roethlisberger was incomplete on third down, and Boswell came out for a 45-yard field goal to give the Steelers a 37-34 lead and he was good.

With 3:24 to go, the Chargers took over at their own 25. Ekeler gained 17 and a first down on the second play of the drive, and on the third play Herbert and Mike Williams linked up on a 53-yard touchdown. Hopkins’ extra point was good, and the Chargers took a 41-37 lead with 2:09 left.

Roethlisberger was sacked on first down for a loss of eight, and the game hit the two-minute warning. On second-and-18, Roethlisberger was sacked again, and he was incomplete to Diontae Johnson on third-and-29. On fourth-and-29, the Steelers were flagged for delay of game. Roethlisberger’s fourth-and-32 throw was incomplete, and that essentially ended the game.

The loss dropped the Steelers to 5-4-1. Next week, the Steelers head to Paul Brown Stadium for an AFC North battle against the Cincinnati Bengals.

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