The Pittsburgh Steelers survived the late surge of the Los Angeles Chargers and got away from the West Coast with a win. Mike Tomlin and his boys defended their 24-17 lead and won the second game this season, coming back into the race for the No.1 place in the AFC North division.
In the closing moments of the match, when the Chargers were on the run and had the last chance to tie the result, Cameron Sutton picked up Philip Rivers’ pass with 41 seconds left in the game. It was the moment of relief for all the guys wearing black and yellow.
It was a very important game for them, as they had their third-string quarterback starting the game for the first time ever. Devlin Hodges, the 23-year old rookie quarterback from Samford, experienced what is like to start the match among the pros. But he didn’t panic, nor was he stiffed in the rough moments.
Hodges completed 15 of his 20 passing attempts, for 132 yards and one touchdown and interception each. The Steelers didn’t overload their new QB, as they involved their running game a little bit more than usual. James Conner explained that by saying that they wanted to help their young quarterback to adjust to the new circumstances and give him time to process all the things on the field.
“We just had to play big for him. I wanted to make the game the easiest possible for him, with this being his first start,” said Conner. “We have to score on defense; we did that, we had to play big, make the game smooth for him.”
And Conner particularly helped his young teammate posting two touchdowns and recording 119 yards from the scrimmage, 41 rushing and 78 through the air.
On the defensive side of the ball, it was Devin Bush who played an excellent game and managed to hurt the Chargers. The rookie LB from Michigan forced two turnovers, one fumble recovery for a 9-yard returning touchdown, and one interception, He was without a doubt the driving force of the Steelers defense in LA tonight.
After trailing 24-0, the Chargers roared back into the game, with Chase McLaughlin breaking the ice with a 38-yard field goal a minute into the last period. Following that, LA scored twice through Hunter Henry, who caught two TD tosses from Philip Rivers, one for 5 and the second for 11 yards.
Then again, there was no time for the home team to perform a miracle and to take this game or at least to tie it. The frustration among the hosts because of this loss was far too great, and even Rivers tried to get physical with the Steelers’ defense after his final interception.
Henry posted precisely 100 yards on 8 catches; Mike Williams had 72 on five, while their running backs had one of the worst performances in the last few years. Melvin Gordon posted just 18 yards on 8 carries, while Austin Ekeler had 14 on five. In total, the Chargers had 32 yards won on the ground.
Rivers had 320, 26 of 44 passing, with 2 touchdowns and interceptions each.
On the other side, Benny Snell Jr collected 75 on 17 rushes and was the guy who did all the dirty work for the guests. He was the main reason for Pittsburgh’s win as he not only won first downs and yards, but also controlled the clock and kept Rivers off the court.
Pittsburgh (2-4) will be free next week, and after that, host the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts. That will be a perfect chance for Tomlin’s guys to bounce back and to post a pair of wins, which would bring them back into the playoff race.
Meanwhile, the Chargers (2-4) have a tough schedule, as they have to play three road games in the next four weekends. They face the Titans and the Bears, then come back home briefly to play against the Packers before going to Oakland to play versus the Raiders.