“Chargers Get Gifts-Earn Win”
Christmas came early for the Chargers on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Gifts fromt he NFL officials in the form of 2-badly blown calls on TD plays….a lucky bounce on a sure interception….and mistakes by the Steelers that gave them life.
Never-ever give Philip Rivers extra chances on offense. The Steelers learned that, and the Bolts earned that win, to take their record to (9-3).
The Chargers got a gift TD, a 46-yard catch and run by Travis Benjamin, after the officials failed to flag right tackle Sam Tavi who came up out of his stance at least 2-ticks before the ball was snapped. No flag-a gift TD.
Then in the second half, a 73-yard punt return by Desmond King, aided by an illegal block in the back by Michael Davis, in the open field. No call-TD-Bolts again.
Even when the Steelers made a play, a sure fire interception, it turned into a critical catch, when the pick became a double deflection and landed in Keenan Allen’s arms for a first down.
Then at the end of the game, with all the pressure on kicker Michael Badgley, the Steelers jumped offsides twice, negating a missed field goal, and a blocked field goal. Given a third chance, Pittsburgh jumped off side, this time Badgley hit the field goal.
It was a hard earned, and maybe tainted (33-30) win.
Luckily for the Bolts, there are two halves to NFL games. An awful first half, was replaced by a very productive second half.
Wideout Keenan Allen ran the Steelers secondary ragged, finishing with 14-catches and 148-yards of Heniz Field real estate. He outshone Antonio Brown’s 10-catch-154-yard night.
And a worthless running game, turned to fresh legs, rookie running back Justin Jackson of Northwestern in the second half. When he was done, he had runs of 9-10-17-18 plus a 19-yard reception. Huge contribution from out of nowhere.
How lopsided was it?
Ben Roethlisberger kept beating the Bolts in the first half, with big catches by Antonio Brown. All that went away in the 2nd half, when the Chargers decided to go zone, let Big Ben throw short and underneath, and challenged him to nickel and dime his way down the field. The rhythm was gone, and so were most of the scoring chances.
The Steelers QB threw a bad pick at the Chargers 10. He had a wide open Jalen Hunter in the end zone and overthrew him. Likely 14-points off the board in the opening half.
It could have been (37-7) at the half, if the right plays and right calls were made, but there was still a 3rd and 4th quarter left to play.
It wasn’t a perfect night. Desmond King gave up 7-completions. Michael Davis gave up a TD and took 2-pass interference calls. Jatavious Brown had a bad helmet hit. Casey Hayward got beat 3-times including an early TD.
Rivers gritted his way for (299Y) passing, and hung in there taking 8-hits. Big Ben had pressure around him all night, took one sack, but was relegated to a lot of short passes, and then got out of sync, in a strange (281Y) passing night.
The hero might have been the rookie running back; Jackson wound up (82) all purpose yards. Where’d he come from. Pittsburgh must be asking that.
The Chargers won where they hardly ever won. The Steelers took a big hit.
The Chargers beat up a pretty good team. Still ahead, road games in Denver and Kansas City, but it is now evident, they have earned some type of playoff game as a wildcard team, at home.
Gifts, Lady Luck and great plays gave them a chance. Rivers and his running mates took advantage of it all, and went out got the win.