The Pittsburgh Steelers pulled out a nail bitter of a win over the San Diego Chargers by the score of 24 -22. Jeff Reed nailed a 40-yard field goal with 10 seconds left and he propelled the Steelers to their third win of the season.
The Steelers won a very hard fought game on both sides and did it at the expense of their stud quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger hyperextended his knee as he completed a pass on the final drive of the game, as he launched the ball towards Antwaan Randle El, and Luis Castillo rolled into his left knee. At this point it is unknown how long Roethlisberger will be sidelined.
photo courtesy of Dennis Poroy
When Roethlisberger went down, it was Charlie Batch who came in and handed the ball off to Jerome Bettis twice, to inch closer for Reed and get on the correct side of the field. Bettis made his return on Monday Night and made quite an impact. His stats weren’t overly impressive but he did what he had to get the Steelers within reach of winning the football game. Bettis rushed for 54 yards on 17 carries, scored one rushing touchdown, but most importantly he converted two third and ones on the final drive of the game. He got the clutch tough yards when they were needed most.
The Steelers opened up the scoring in the second quarter as Roethlisberger took a designed quarterback draw and followed his blockers into the endzone on the seven yard scamper. The touchdown capped a drive that covered 84-yards on nine plays and they lead 7-0. The Steelers offense would strike again as Bettis ran it in from one yard out, on a six play 41-yards drive. After the game Bettis said, “I am back.”
The Chargers would answer late in the half as Drew Brees hit Antonio Gates in the back of the endzone on an 11-yard touchdown pass. Gates finished the game with five catches for 61-yards and one touchdown. The Chargers cut the lead in half and took the momentum with them into the locker room.
In the second half the Chargers slowly crept back into the game as they got three Nate Kaeding fields of 34, 32 and 41 yards and claimed a two point 16-14 lead. The Steelers would answer, as they quickly drove 62 yards in 1:11 on three plays, and that drive was capped by a pretty 16-yard pass play to rookie Heath Miller. The Steelers then lead 21-16, but the Chargers would answer.
When San Diego got the ball back they marched right down the field behind great passing from Brees and great running from LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson finished the 11-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run and the Chargers lead 22-21. Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer elected to go for the two point conversion and tried a very similar type of handoff play to Tomlinson, and this time the Steelers defense was ready. They stopped him in his tracks and kept the lead to just one point. The Steelers defense limited Tomlinson to just 62 yards on 18 carries, and maintained their streak of hold opposing running backs under 100 yards.
The defense played an excellent football game as they got in Brees’ face, and played very smart. This defense maybe ranked currently about 12th in the league but when it comes down to stopping players, and shutting down running backs there is no better unit in football. James Harrison filled in nicely for Clark Haggans as he had several tackles, and his biggest play of the night came when he intercepted a deflected pass and then hurdled Tomlinson as he was running with the ball. Troy Polamalu had nine tackles in the game, and shadowed Gates for the majority of the game. His play was pro bowl caliber, as he just continues to get better every game. Tomlinson said after the game, “That the best defensive football team I’ve ever seen.”
The Steelers are now back in the thick of things in their division as they sit at 3-1 and remain just a game behind the Cincinnati Bengals. For now the uncertainty of Roethlisberger’s knee will have many panicking, but the win will help it heal a little better and the Steelers can enjoy a tough, hard fought win.
This is from Coach Cowher’s weekly press conference at noon today.
“Ben had the MRI this morning,” Cowher said, “Basicially it's what we thought last night. He has a hyper-extension of his knee and a bone bruise. I am not going to rule him out this week. We'll see how the week progresses. The intial diagnoses by Dr. (Jim) Bradley was confirmed this morning. I think we'll all have a deep sigh of relief in regards to the diagnoses.”
“The other thing is with Tommy Maddox, we thought it was like Jerome (Bettis) in terms of what the extent of it was. Obviously in the short period of time before we left. Tommy came in this morning and felt pretty good. There's a good chance he'll be available this week. I guess the dire situation we thought we had coming in here this morning, doesn't appear to be that right now. No roster moves are pending. We'll look at how some of these things occur over the course of the next couple of days and we'll go from there. The only player who came out of the game injury-wise that will not play is Ricardo Colclough. He has a shoulder injury. He's definitely out this week.”