In the biggest game of the year that the Chargers have had, they showed up. It got off to a rough start and the Chargers were down 23-7 at halftime, but Anthony Lynn continues to show why he’s one of the great coaches and motivators in the NFL right now. The Chargers came storming back in dramatic fashion, to win 33-30.
The offense started off slow, mostly because the Steelers front seven is one of the best in the NFL and the running attack was going nowhere. Austin Ekeler had a quiet day, with only 1 rushing yard in the first half. I said this some in my article last week, Austin Ekeler is a great complementary back, but he is not a bell cow. He needs a solid runner, and he is a change of pace running back. Justin Jackson stepped up in a huge way and rushed for 63 yards and a TD with a 7.8 YPC clip. His most impressive run was an 18-yard scamper to give the Chargers the 30-23 lead. Keenan Allen got a lot of love as well, he had a monster performance of 14 catches, 148 yards, and 1 TD. In his best performance of the year, he showed America why he is still one of the top receivers in the NFL. The offensive line had a rough week once again, but stepped up when it mattered late in the game. The Steelers led the NFL in sacks and they got to Rivers only twice, but the Chargers have to get their false starts under control.
The Chargers defense put on a show, they locked up when it mattered most. My personal MVP of the evening was Derwin James, he made several plays all over the field and the Chargers would not have won the game if they didn’t have James. He had an interception, and made a great play to knock Antonio Brown out of bounds on a crucial play. He had several pass deflections, and changed the game. He is arguably already the best Safety in the AFC, and he’s just a rookie. Desmond King played lights out, he was second on the team in tackles with 10 and also had the most momentum changing play when he returned a 73-yard punt return (which I called in my last article), the return gave the Chargers the tie at 23 and the rest was history. The defense showed some weaknesses, such as the pass rush, which was invisible for most of the evening. Most of the contending teams right now can get to the QB no matter what, the Chargers are going to have to figure it out. The linebackers did not play very well, and the Chargers might need to go out and sign a true MLB, because Brown and Pullard are not getting the job done.
The special teams was alright, Badgley missed a 52-yarder, Donnie Jones got a punt blocked, but other than that the game was fairly balanced. On the game-winning FG by Badgley, the Steelers had three straight offsides penalties which made for a bizarre ending to the game. After the first missed FG, my heart sank a little, but luckily for the Chargers the Steelers were kind enough to give us two more tries.
The Chargers go back home and get ready for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are without their starting QB and star WR AJ Green. This is a good time for the Chargers to stay right behind the Chiefs, before the matchup in two weeks on Thursday night football. The Chargers are now 9-3 and look like a lock to make playoffs now. Just have to keep grinding, and make ourselves noticed.