Chargers hold off Steelers comeback to win thriller

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws for 382 yards, including a 53-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Mike Williams after the Pittsburgh Steelers had overturned a 17-pont lead for L.A. in the fourth quarter

Last Updated: 22/11/21 6:35am

Austin Ekeler scored four touchdowns for the Los Angeles Chargers in their thrilling win over the Pittsburgh Steelers

Austin Ekeler scored four touchdowns for the Los Angeles Chargers in their thrilling win over the Pittsburgh Steelers

Justin Herbert threw for 382 yards and Austin Ekeler scored four touchdowns as the Los Angeles Chargers held off a late Pittsburgh Steelers comeback to win 41-37 in a Sunday Night Football thriller.

Story of the Game

The Chargers were seemingly cruising towards a comfortable victory when leading by 17 entering the fourth quarter, but the Steelers then scored 27 points to edge in front 37-34 before Herbert hit Mike Williams for a 53-yard game-winning touchdown in a wild finish.

Herbert completed 30 of 41 passes, throwing three touchdown passes to one interception. He also had a team-high 90 yards rushing on the ground. The Los Angeles quarterback was, however, outdone by team-mate Ekeler, who accounted for 115 yards from scrimmage and four TDs – two rushing, two receiving.

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger – activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday after missing their 16-16 tie with the winless Detroit Lions last week – connected on 28 of 44 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns.

Two of Big Ben’s scoring strikes came within 26 seconds of each other as he found tight ends Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth, each from five yards out, either side of a Herbert interception that tied the game up at 34-34.

Chris Boswell connected on a 45-yard field goal to see Pittsburgh nose ahead on their next series, after L.A. turned the ball over on downs, but Herbert then found Williams for the game-winning score with little over two minutes to go and the Chargers defense did the rest to hold out for victory.

It means that the Steelers slip to 5-4-1 on the season, while the Chargers jump up to 6-4.

Stats leaders

Steelers

  • Passing: Ben Roethlisberger, 28/44, 273 yards, 3 TDs
  • Rushing: Najee Harris, 12 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD
  • Receiving: Diontae Johnson, seven catches, 101 yards, 1 TD
  • Chase Claypool, five catches, 93 yards
Justin Herbert threw three touchdown passes in the game and also had a team-high 90 yards rushing on the ground

Justin Herbert threw three touchdown passes in the game and also had a team-high 90 yards rushing on the ground

Chargers

  • Passing: Justin Herbert, 30/41, 382 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • Rushing: Justin Herbert, nine carries, 90 yards
  • Austin Ekeler, 11 carries, 52 yards, 2 TDS / six catches, 65 yards, 2 TDs
  • Receiving: Keenan Allen, nine catches, 112 yards
  • Mike Williams, five catches, 97 yards, 1 TD

Scoring Summary

Scoring summary

FIRST QUARTER
Steelers 3-0 Chargers Chris Boswell 36-yard field goal
Steelers 3-7 Chargers Austin Ekeler six-yard TD run (extra point)
SECOND QUARTER
Steelers 3-14 Chargers Justin Herbert 10-yard TD pass to Austin Ekeler (extra point)
Steelers 10-14 Chargers Ben Roethlisberger 10-yard TD pass to Diontae Johnson (extra point)
Steelers 10-17 Chargers Dustin Hopkins 30-yard field goal
THIRD QUARTER
Steelers 10-24 Chargers Justin Herbert 17-yard TD pass to Austin Ekeler (extra point)
Steelers 10-27 Chargers Dustin Hopkins 41-yard field goal
FOURTH QUARTER
Steelers 13-27 Chargers Chris Boswell 36-yard field goal
Steelers 20-27 Chargers Najee Harris one-yard TD run (extra point)
Steelers 20-34 Chargers Austin Ekeler five-yard TD run (extra point)
Steelers 27-34 Chargers Ben Roethlisberger five-yard TD pass to Eric Ebron (extra point)
Steelers 34-34 Chargers Ben Roethlisberger five-yard TD pass to Pat Freiermuth (extra point)
Steelers 37-34 Chargers Chris Boswell 45-yard field goal
Steelers 37-41 Chargers Justin Herbert 53-yard TD pass to Mike Williams (extra point)

Key Plays

Pittsburgh opened the scoring midway through the first quarter courtesy of a Boswell 36-yard field goal, but Los Angeles took the lead on its next possession when Ekeler ran in from six yards out for the first of his four TDs.

Off the back of an impressive goal-line stand by their defense, the Chargers then made that 14-3 with less than four minutes left in the first half as Ekeler this time scored off a pass from Herbert.

The Steelers responded, this time finding the endzone as Roethlisberger threw a delightful touch pass to Diontae Johnson from 10 yards out, but Herbert engineered a last-minute drive to set up a Dustin Hopkins 30-yard field goal to see the Chargers up by seven at half-time.

That lead stretched to 17 after Ekeler scored for a third time – his best of the night as he made several Steelers defenders miss on a 17-yard catch and run to the endzone – and Hopkins fired through another field goal.

But that’s where the drama started. Boswell scored a 36-yard field goal to open the fourth quarter for Pittsburgh, who then followed that up with a blocked punt to set up a Najee Harris goal-line touchdown run.

Just as the Steelers had made it a one-score game, Herbert and Ekeler again combined to see the Chargers again seemingly streak clear – the L.A. quarterback scrambling for 36 yards to set up a five-yard rushing score from Ekeler.

But back came Pittsburgh, with their two tight ends snatching touchdown tosses from Roethlisberger either side of a Herbert interception that was tipped by Cameron Heyward.

With the scores now level, the defense again stepped up to force a Chargers turnover on downs on their next possession and suddenly the Steelers found themselves in the lead with three minutes and 24 seconds left after another Boswell field goal.

But Herbert and the Chargers had other ideas in mind, with the second-year quarterback finding Williams down the left sideline for the game-winning strike just three plays later. This time, Pittsburgh couldn’t recover.

What’s Next?

Both teams are on the road next Sunday for crunch divisional matchups. The Chargers (6-4) travel to the Denver Broncos (5-5) in the AFC West, while the Steelers (5-4-1) are in Cincinnati for an AFC North meeting with the Bengals (6-4).

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