The Times West Virginian

Sports

December 10, 2012

Chargers bolt to 34-24 win over Steelers

PITTSBURGH — So much for Ben Roethlisberger’s triumphant return. Ditto the notion the Pittsburgh Steelers had finally turned the corner.

Rhythm disrupted by a relentless San Diego pass rush, Roethlisberger struggled early and the Steelers never recovered in a listless — not to mention perplexing — 34-24 loss on Sunday.

“We got whupped,” Pittsburgh linebacker Larry Foote said.

A thumping that continued a maddening trend for the Steelers (7-6), who have won on the road at Baltimore, Cincinnati and the New York Giants this year but also fallen to Tennessee, Oakland, Cleveland and now the Chargers (5-8).

Roethlisberger completed 22 of 42 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns in his first game back after spraining his right shoulder and dislocating a rib in an overtime win against Kansas City nearly a month ago. Most of the yards and all of the scores came after the Steelers had fallen behind by 24 points to a team that had never won in Pittsburgh during the regular season.

“I have no clue (why we’re inconsistent),” Roethlisberger said. “If I knew I don’t think we’d do it anymore. I thought we’d play better.”

The Steelers thought they’d revived their season last Sunday in an emotional victory over the Ravens behind third-string quarterback Charlie Batch. Instead, they looked disinterested at times and sloppy at others against a team that hardly looked like it was playing out the string.

Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, two to Danario Alexander, and underachieving San Diego beat the Steelers on the road for the first time since the AFL and NFL merged more than 40 years ago.

“This isn’t necessarily the team we thought we’d have on the field in December, but this is the type of performance we thought we’d put together,” said Rivers, who completed 21 of 41 passes for 200 yards.

The Chargers have been one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments after a 3-1 start evaporated into a 1-7 slide that fueled speculation coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith could be fired at season’s end.

Maybe, but for an afternoon, anyway, the Chargers played with a fearlessness they’ve lacked during their swoon.

The injury-ravaged offensive line kept Rivers out of harm’s way. The Steelers only sacked Rivers once, and all that extra time in the pocket helped him convert 12 of 22 third downs, allowing San Diego to chew up the clock and keep Roethlisberger from getting going while the game was still competitive.

“We all know that this team has played this way through large parts of many games,” Turner said. “We did not make the big mistake in the football game.”

Instead, it was the Steelers who couldn’t seem to get out of their own way.

Mike Wallace caught two second-half touchdowns but also dropped a 50-yard rocket from Roethlisberger in the first half that would have gotten Pittsburgh out of an early hole. Antonio Brown also scored in the final seconds but saw a 40-yard pass clang off his chest in the second quarter that could have made a difference.

The running game the Steelers hoped would take pressure off Roethlisberger’s right arm never materialized. Jonathan Dwyer led the Steelers with 32 yards, or one more than Roethlisberger had during five hold-your-breath scrambles.

San Diego controlled an ugly first half, taking a 13-3 lead at the break behind a 39-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to Alexander and a pair of Nick Novak field goals.

The Steelers didn’t even cross midfield until a last-gasp drive to end the half ended with a 49-yard Shaun Suisham field goal.

Any boost the kick provided Pittsburgh disappeared during the first 10 minutes of the third quarter.

San Diego converted five straight third downs during a clock-chewing drive, including a 17-yard burst up the middle by Ronnie Brown on third-and-13 from the Pittsburgh 29.

The play wasn’t designed to get a first down, but a pair of missed tackles helped the Chargers extend the drive. Three plays later Rivers found Michael Floyd for a 3-yard touchdown to make it 20-3.

The 17-play march ate up nearly 10 minutes. The Chargers needed barely 10 seconds to put the game away.

Backed up yet again after Floyd’s score, Roethlisberger tried to hit Brown on a screen pass. The ball smacked into tight end David Paulson’s rear and rolled into the end zone, where Quentin Jammer fell on it.

The play appeared to be overturned on review. Pittsburgh’s offense ran back onto the field when referee Scott Green popped out from under the hood.

Instead, Green pulled a switcheroo, confirming the score to give the Chargers a 27-3 lead and a brief moment of joy in a year full of chaos.

“Yeah we’ve been struggling the last five weeks,” tight end Antonio Gates said. “But at the end of the day it only came down to one or two plays in those games we lost. Today, we just were playing the way we were capable of playing, the way we know how to play.”

Meanwhile the Steelers will have to find a way to move forward after one of the most demoralizing defeats of Tomlin’s six-year tenure. Pittsburgh still controls its playoff hopes after Cincinnati lost to Dallas.

If the Steelers can win their final three games, they’ll play into January. That’s too far down the road to think about. At the moment, they’d just like to get back to playing something resembling competitive football.

“”Those of us that have been around here, we’ve got to find a way to pick it up and finish strong,” defensive end Brett Keisel said. “We’ve got to bounce back. We’ve got to respond from this performance.”

NOTES: Steelers LG Willie Colon left the game with a left knee injury. Maurkice Pouncey moved from center to guard, with Doug Legursky replacing Pouncey at center ... Roethlisberger became the 25th quarterback in NFL history to surpass 29,000 passing yards and 1,000 career rushing yards ...San Diego WR Michael Spurlock had seven receptions for 64 yards, with five of the receptions turning third downs into first downs ... Steelers WR Plaxico Burress had an 18-yard reception in the first half, his first reception since being re-signed by the Steelers two weeks ago ... San Diego held the ball for 36:45, the most by a Pittsburgh opponent this season.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Jones uses his attitude to lead Polar Bears

    When you look around the football field come August, you’ll see plenty of new faces for the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears. But there will be at least one very familiar face.
    TJ Jones is one of just a handful of seniors on this year’s Fairmont Senior team, and he’s hoping to go out on top.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • FSU football season tickets available

    Season ticket packages and VIP parking for the 2014 Fairmont State University football season are now available for purchase.
    Several options are available, including the opportunity to purchase a piece of Fairmont State history.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers, 6-1

    Josh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
    Harrison’s two-run double down the left field line capped a four-run outburst in the first against Haren (8-8).

    July 24, 2014

  • Berner, Hess lead W.Va. Open

    Threatening weather did not strike Wednesday, and it was a cool, breezy start to the 81st West Virginia Open played on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs.
     

    July 23, 2014

  • WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting

    West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
    Both teams will receive $2.5 million for the game and have a chance to earn up to $3.2 million with ticket incentives.
    Each team will buy 12,500 tickets and set aside 2,000 of its allotment for students.
    The game, played on the home field of the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, is being put on by the Charlotte Sports Federation.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Fleming, Billy.jpg WVU’s Fleming signs contract with Yankees

     Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
    “Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Fleming said. “It is still surreal that I get to chase my dream, but I am ready to get after it. I loved my three years at WVU and want to thank all the coaches that made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos