Chargers hold off late rally, beat Steelers in shootout 41-37
By Joshua Hertz, Sports Director
— It was a close game in Los Angeles, as the hometown Chargers(6-4) defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers(5-4-1) in an offensive duel. The Chargers were led by quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw for 382 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception, while also leading the team in rushing with 90 yards. Running back Austin Ekeler had a game to remember with 50 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 65 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver. The Chargers receiving core had a strong day, with receivers Kenan Allen and Mike Williams having 112 yards and 97 yards. For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger passed for 273 yards and 3 touchdowns, while receiver Diontae Johnson had 101 yards and a touchdown and receiver Chase Claypool had 93 yards. The shorthanded Steelers defense struggled to make stops for most of the night, and clawed back into the game before the Chargers defense put them away.
The Steelers were strong on their opening drive, with Chris Boswell scoring a 36-yard field goal to open up scoring. The Steelers gave up their first opening drive touchdown of the year, as Herbert passed for 63 yards to allow Chargers running back Austin Ekeler to run in a 6-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
The Steelers had a long drive down the field to open the second quarter, but failed to score on fourth and goal from the two yard line thanks to strong defense by the Chargers. Herbert and the Chargers responded with a 98-yard drive capped off with a ten-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Ekeler to build the lead to 14-3. The Steelers responded with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Diontae Johnson with 1:08 in the half. Dustin Hopkins made a 31-yard field goal to give the Chargers the 17-10 lead heading into halftime.
A fast, explosive drive by the Chargers led to a 17 yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Ekeler to start the third quarter. The Chargers followed it up on their next drive with a 41-yard field goal after an offside penalty gave them a retry following a missed attempt.
The Steelers started off the fourth quarter with a quick 36 yard field goal by Boswell. The Steelers defense finally made its first stop of the day, leading to the first punt of the game by the Charger early in the fourth quarter, which the Steelers blocked to get the ball inside the Chargers 10-yard line. After nearly turning over on downs again before being saved by a pass interference call, Najee Harris ran the ball 1 yard to score a touchdown, making it a one score game. The Chargers quickly struck back with a 5 yard touchdown rush by Ekeler. The Steelers remained in the game with Roethlisberger finding tight end Eric Ebron for a 5-yard touchdown with 4:54 left in the game to bring the score to 34-27. With 4:45 remaining, Justin Herbert threw an interception to Cameron Sutton to set up another drive for the Steelers. Pittsburgh promptly tied the game with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Pat Freiermuth. A failed fourth and 1 attempt by Los Angeles gave the Steelers back the ball with 3:48 left in the game, setting up a 45 yard Boswell kick to give the Steelers their first lead of the night. The lead was short lived, with Herbert throwing a 53 yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams with 2:09 remaining. The Steelers failed to convert on 4th and 32 inside their ten-yard line, sealing the victory for Los Angeles.
Return from Covid
Ben Roethlisberger was back in the starting lineup for the Steelers after missing the previous game with Covid-19. Roethlisberger is vaccinated against the virus, and was missed by the Steelers, who tied the league’s worst team, the Detroit Lions, in Week 10.
The Steelers remain a team riddled with injury, missing star linebacker T.J. Watt(knee, hip) and defensive backs Joe Haden(foot) and Minkah Fitzpatrick(Covid-19).
The Chargers(6-4) will visit Denver to face the division rival Broncos(5-5) The Steelers(5-4-1) will take a trip to division rival Cincinnati to face the Bengals(6-4)
Featured image by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images