CARSON, Calif. _ The Steelers went into Sunday night’s game against the Chargers with an undrafted rookie quarterback in Devlin Hodges and came out with a much needed 24-17 win. The win improves the Steelers to 2-4 as they head into their bye.
The Chargers made it interesting as Philip Rivers hit Hunter Henry for his second touchdown of the game, closing the gap to 24-17 with 1:29 to play. The Chargers got the ball back one last time, but Cam Sutton picked off Rivers to secure the win.
The Chargers scored when Hunter Henry was able to get both feet down in the back of the end zone on a five-yard scoring strike from Philip Rivers. The 10-play, 70-yard drive took 3:23, cutting the lead to 24-10.
The Steelers’ bid for a shutout was stymied when Chargers kicker Chase McLaughlin connected on a 38-yard field goal with 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
That cut the visitor’s lead to 24-3.
Up 21-0 at the break, the Steelers added on after receiving the kickoff to start the third quarter.
Kicker Chris Boswell’s 20-yard field goal with 8:12 left in the third capped a 13-play, 73-yard drive in 6:48 and gave the Steelers a 24-0 lead. The Steelers had achieved a first-and-goal at the Chargers’ 2-yard line but settled for three points after two runs for no gain and a throw-away heave by quarterback Devlin Hodges following an errant shotgun snap on third down.
The Steelers started fast and had the defense to thank for it.
The defense opened the scoring when inside linebacker Devin Bush collected a fumble and returned it 9 yards for a touchdown with 10:51 left in the first quarter. The fumble occurred when quarterback Philip Rivers tried a backwards pass to running back Melvin Gordon in the flat on second-and-10 from the Chargers 21 but sailed the ball over Gordon’s head. Boswell’s extra point made it 7-0, Steelers.
Bush was at it again on the Chargers’ next possession. He corralled the carom of a Rivers pass intended for wide receiver Keenan Allen that was deflected by defensive lineman Tyson Alualu. Bush’s 6-yard return set the Steelers up at the Chargers’ 40.
Running back James Conner took over from there.
Conner touched the ball on seven consecutive snaps (four rushes, three receptions) and finished off what ended up as a seven-play, 40-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run. Conner converted third downs on the march with a 12-yard reception on third-and-4 from the Chargers’ 34 and on a 4-yard grab on third-and-4 from the Chargers’ 16. Boswell’s PAT made it 14-0 with 4:29 left in the opening quarter.
The Steelers upped their lead again the next time they got their hands on the football.
This time it was Conner hauling in a pass in the flat from Hodges, running through linebacker Jatavis Brown near the sideline and scampering 26 yards for his second TD of the night and Hodges’ first touchdown pass of his NFL career. The Steelers converted three third downs on the 14-play, 86-yard possession in 9:09 _ as many third downs as they’d converted in each of their first five games _ including one on the scoring strike. Boswell made it 21-0 with 6:34 left in the second quarter.
McLaughlin missed a 43-yard field goal attempt with 32 seconds left in the first half (the ball hit the left upright).
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt (pectoral) left the game early in the first and did not return.
Bush went down and stayed down momentarily with 4:03 left in the second (ankle) but eventually got up and walked off the field. Bush didn’t play in the remainder of the first half but returned for the first defensive possession of the second.
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 6 game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park