STEELERS 24, CHARGERS 20
Steelers' record: 3-2
One year ago: 3-2
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 23-9
The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California to face the Chargers in Week 5.
STEELERS ON THE WEST COAST**
Of all the teams the Steelers have played in the Pacific Time Zone, they have had the most success in San Diego. The Steelers now are 8-6 in San Diego, which represents their only winning record on that side of the country. The Steelers are 2-3 in Arizona vs. the Cardinals; 5-10 in Oakland/Los Angeles vs. the Raiders; 1-6 in Seattle; 5-6 in San Francisco; and 0-9 vs. the Rams when they were in Los Angeles.
The loss to the Ravens was a painful one on a lot of different levels, and even though Mike Tomlin dismisses the concept of seeking comfort in defeat, he assessed the first four weeks of the regular season.
"I'm disappointed but I'm not in any way discouraged by the growth and development of our guys in all three areas," said Tomlin. "That being said, we have to do enough to win along the way as we grow and improve. Specifically, I thought Le'Veon took a step in his second game back. I was generally pleased with the performance of Mike (Vick), and I'm excited about having a full week's physical preparation with him, in helmet perspective and full-speed perspective. I think he's only going to get better in terms of managing our offense and doing what's required for us to win in that area.
"I think the defense is improving week in and week out. We still have a ways to go in a lot of areas, but I see dramatic improvement in some areas. I thought our special teams took a step up in the return game – we had a significant punt return when we needed it late in that game. I thought we had a significant kickoff return late in the game that got us beyond the 30-yard line when we needed it. That's good to see."
HOW THE STORYLINE PLAYED OUT**
In the first half, the Steelers' plan to get the ball to Le'Veon Bell often and by any means necessary became apparent quickly. Through the first half, the Steelers ran 34 offensive plays, with 14 of those being runs by Bell and another five being passes thrown to him. Bell finished with 89 yards rushing and another 16 on four receptions, but even though he broke off runs of 32 and 25 yards, the Steelers managed only a 47-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.
Part of the problem were the six penalties for minus-70 yards, including three on punt returns that either nullified nice returns by Antonio Brown or pinned the Steelers deep to start the possession, or both. The other issue for the Steelers offense was the lack of consistent protection for Mike Vick, and so the Chargers held a 7-3 lead at halftime.
The Steelers cut way back on the penalties in the second half while continuing to get clutch play from their defense. Antwon Blake's 70-yard pick-six accounted for the Steelers' first touchdown. Special teams was solid, and Chris Boswell showed himself to be a competent NFL kicker. The offense got the ball into the end zone on a 72-yard double-move touchdown from Vick to Markus Wheaton, but the most impressive thing about the offense was the 12-play, 80-yard drive for the winning touchdown.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT**
The Steelers offense had 12 possessions in the game, and it wasn't until the 11th and 12th that the unit got the ball into the end zone.
It was a third-and-6 late in the fourth quarter with the Steelers on the fringe of realistic field goal territory at the San Diego 41-yard line. Back to pass, Mike Vick saw the middle open up and he ran 24 yards to clinch field goal territory and give the Steelers a shot at going for the winning score.