For a few minutes in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Chargers were going to add another game to the long list of crushing defeats.
The Steelers had mounted a furious comeback with a blocked punt, interception, and fourth-down stop — building a 37-34 lead with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Chargers were able to stave off heartbreak. On the third play of Los Angeles’ ensuing drive, quarterback Justin Herbert threw a dart to a wide-open Mike Williams down the left sideline and Williams took it in for a 53-yard touchdown.
That was enough for Los Angeles to win 41-37.
The Steelers got the ball back, but back-to-back sacks of Ben Roethlisberger left Pittsburgh with fourth-and-29 from its own 3-yard line. Roethlisberger’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
The Chargers were in control for most of the game, taking a 27-10 lead with kicker Dustin Hopkins’ 41-yard field goal late with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
And even when Boswell hit a 36-yard field goal and running back Najee Harris’ 1-yard touchdown narrowed the score to 27-20, the Chargers got their lead back to 14 with running back Austin Ekeler’s fourth touchdown of the night.
That’s when the Steelers scored 17 points in just under two minutes of game time before Herbert put Los Angeles back on top for good.
Herbert didn’t make many mistakes on Sunday, finishing 30-of-41 for 382 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Even the pick wasn’t entirely a bad decision, as the ball went off defensive tackle Cam Hayward’s helmet before cornerback Cameron Sutton made a diving catch for a turnover.
Herbert’s legs were also a major factor in the contest, as he rushed nine times for 90 yards — including a 36-yard scramble.
Receiver Keenan Allen led the way with nine catches for 112 yards. Mike Williams had five catches for 97 yards, including the game-winning score. Ekeler had four total touchdowns, two rushing and two receiving, along with 115 yards from scrimmage.
In allowing 33 first downs and 533 yards of offense, the Steelers clearly missed edge rusher T.J. Watt, cornerback Joe Haden, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Watt and Haden were out due to injury and Fitzpatrick is on the COVID-19 list. The Chargers attempted only one punt, which Pittsburgh blocked.
Roethlisberger just returned to the team on Saturday after missing last week’s game due to a positive COVID-19 test. Despite not practicing, he finished 28-of-44 for 273 yards with three touchdowns. Diontae Johnson had seven receptions for 101 yards with a touchdown. And Chase Claypool had five catches for 93 yards.
But it wasn’t enough for a win on the West Coast.
At 5-4-1, the Steelers will be on the road next week, too, to face the 6-4 Bengals.
At 6-4, the Chargers will try to carry their momentum into next week’s road matchup with the division-rival 5-5 Broncos.