INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Often, the winner of a game in the NFL is the team that makes the fewest mistakes and takes advantage of those made by its opponent.
That was the case Sunday for the Steelers here at SoFi Stadium.
Los Angeles missed two field goals and extra point, while quarterback Matthew Stafford also threw a costly interception, and the Steelers took advantage, scoring off both missed field goals and the interception in a 24-17 win here Sunday over the Rams.
The win allowed the Steelers (4-2) to keep pace in the competitive AFC North as both Baltimore (5-2) and Cleveland (4-2) won earlier in the day. The Bengals (3-3) were on a bye in Week 7.
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 7 game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium
The Steelers were coming off their bye and improved to 13-4 coming off a week off under head coach Mike Tomlin.
"It's a fight," said Tomlin. "It always is a fight. Sometimes, it is man versus himself. Sometimes, it's man versus opponent.
"I appreciate the fight that the guys displayed. They've got a don't-blink mentality."
Kenny Pickett completed 17 of 25 passes for 230 yards and also rushed for a touchdown as the Steelers scored their first three rushing touchdowns of the season.
With Diontae Johnson back in the lineup after missing the past four games, the passing game, after a slow start, began to roll in the second half. Johnson had five receptions for 79 yards, while George Pickens caught five passes for 107 yards, his third 100-yard game of the young season.
"It was great to have him back," said Pickett of Johnson. "I think you saw the effect he can have with both George and him out the outside. They're two tough guys to cover."
The Rams missed a 53-yard field goal at the end of their second possession, setting the Steelers up with excellent field position at their own 43.
They used that to put the first points of the game on the board, getting a 53-yard field goal from Chris Boswell early in the second quarter.
But it could have been more than that. On third-and-9 from the Los Angeles 27 on the final play of the first quarter, Pickett connected with Diontae Johnson on a crossing route. As Johnson raced across the field, George Pickens leveled safety Russ Yeast, drawing a penalty for an illegal blindside block.
Instead of having the ball at the Los Angeles 8, where Johnson was run out of bounds, the Steelers faced third down from the 35.
The Rams got the field goal back in the second quarter, as Brett Maher connected from 41 yards out to tie the game at 3-3, where the score remained until late in the half.
Following a Steelers' punt from midfield that pinned Los Angeles back at its own 12 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the half, the Rams faced third-and-3. Stafford connected with Puka Nacua for a 36-yard gain on a crossing route to get the Rams out to midfield, and Stafford then found Tutu Atwell for a 31-yard touchdown on a broken play.
Stafford was flushed from the pocket to his left by pressure from Alex Highsmith and lofted a pass toward the goal line toward a streaking Cooper Kupp, who didn't appear to see the ball. But Atwell, who was already in the end zone, made an adjustment and came back for the ball, catching it at 1 and stepping into the end zone.
Maher, however, missed the PAT and the Rams took just a 9-3 lead into the locker room.
For the lack of offense in the first half, things heated up early in the third quarter.
On Los Angeles' first play from scrimmage, T.J. Watt dropped into coverage and intercepted a short crossing route intended for Puca Nakua, returning it to the Rams' 7. Three plays later, Pickett scored on a 1-yard plunge to give the Steelers a 10-9 lead.
"It was just eyes on the quarterback and I was able to see him kind of work his way back to my side of the field," said Watt. "I was able to jump in front and make a play on the ball."
It was short-lived, however, as the Rams took advantage of a rare Watt miscue, as he was called for lining up offside on third-down play that was incomplete, allowing Los Angeles to keep possession. On the first play following the penalty, Stafford completed a 32-yard pass down the sideline to Nacua that helped set up a 1-yard run by Darrell Henderson. Stafford then threw a 2-point conversion pass to Kupp and the Rams regained the lead at 17-10 with 8:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Maher missed another field goal, this one from 51 yards, late in the third quarter, and the Steelers faced a third-and-8 to open the fourth quarter with the Steelers just 1 of 7 on third downs to that point.
But Pickett found Johnson for a 39-yard catch-and-run to the Los Angeles 18, and Jaylen Warren scored two plays later from the 13 to tie the game at 17-17 with 13:49 remaining in the game.
The Steelers got a three-and-out on the Rams' ensuing possession and went on a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Harris to go up 24-17 with 7:20 remaining in the game.
After getting another punt by the Rams, the Steelers ran out the clock on the game's remaining 5:28 to get the victory