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What Went Right, What Went Wrong

What went right, wrong at Chargers

COIN TOSS: Chargers win the toss and elect to defer. Steelers get the football first.

8:34 p.m. – What Went Right: The Steelers ended up settling for a red zone field goal, but considering it was the first time Ben Roethlisberger had worked with the offense in any way since the Monday night win over the Bears on Nov. 8, it was a nice way to start. The Steelers took the opening kickoff and drove 57 yards in 13 plays to set up Chris Boswell with a 36-yard field goal with 8:29 left in the first quarter. The Steelers converted their first two third down situations, both on completions from Roethlisberger.

8:48 p.m. – What Went Wrong: The Steelers came into the game as one of only two NFL teams not to have allowed a touchdown on the opponent's opening drive (Carolina was the other) but that ended vs. the Chargers. The Chargers drove 73 yards in 112 plays, with Austin Ekeler's 6-yard run good for the touchdown. The Chargers were 3-for-3 on third downs, with two of those coming on passes from Justin Herbert to Mike Williams for gains of 22 and 17 yards, respectively.

9:03 p.m. – What Went Wrong: The Steelers drove 73 yards in 12 plays but ended up with nothing to show for it when Ben Roethlisberger's inside pass to Pat Freiermuth was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard pass to Chase Claypool, and that would have gone for a touchdown if either the pass had been a little longer or Claypool had been able to stay on his feet after the catch. As it was, it gave the Steelers a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line, but they were not able to cash in on that big play.

9:14 p.m. – What Went Wrong: Going against a team quarterbacked by Justin Herbert, it's obvious the defense is going to have its hands full with the quarterback, but on this possession that quarterback hurt the Steelers in an unexpected way. On a 12-play, 98-yard drive that followed the Steelers' failure on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line, Herbert scrambled three times for 39 yards, including an 18-yard gain that converted a third-and-6. With 3:42 left in the first half, the Chargers had a 14-3 lead and were 4-for-4 on third downs.

9:26 p.m. – What Went Right: It didn't take the Steelers long to cut into the Chargers lead. A 64-yard drive in six plays ended with a 10-yard pass to Diontae Johnson for a touchdown that cut the Steelers' deficit to 14-10 with 1:09 left in the first half. On the drive, Johnson caught four passes for 48 yards, including the touchdown.

9:41 p.m. – What Went Wrong: The Chargers had enough time following the Steelers touchdown to get three points back before halftime on a 31-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins. On the possession, the Steelers had two sacks of Justin Herbert nullified by penalties – the first of those a holding penalty on Karl Joseph and the other being offside on Cam Heyward. Joseph did come back to break up a pass on third-and-4 from the 7-yard line to force the field goal. The Chargers scored on each of their three possessions in the first half and led, 17-10.

HALFTIME: Chargers 17, Steelers 10

10:04 p.m. – What Went Wrong: The Chargers received the second half kickoff, and it was their fourth possession in the game, and for the fourth time they took the ball down the field and scored. On this instance it was a touchdown that came on a 17-yard pass to Austin Ekeler, who made James Pierre and then Terrell Edmunds miss him in the open field before getting the ball into the end zone. Justin Herbert hit back-to-back passes to Keenan Allen for 44 yards to get the ball into the red zone. With 11:50 left in the third quarter, the Chargers led, 24-10.

10:23 p.m. – What Went Wrong: As of there being 3:40 left in the third quarter, the Chargers still had scored on every one of their offensive possessions in the game. This one came via a 41-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins, who got a second chance after his miss from 46 yards was nullified by an offside penalty on Cam Sutton. The only relief the Steelers got on this possession that extended the Chargers lead to 27-10 came via penalties on Los Angeles. Keenan Allen caught three passes for 20 yards on the possession.

THIRD QUARTER: Chargers 27, Steelers 10

10:35 p.m. – What Went Right: The Steelers answered with a field goal drive of their own, and Ben Roethlisberger was looking pretty sharp at the end of a week in which he had no practice, but as the fourth quarter began things were developing the feeling of "too little, too late" because of the defense's inability to stop the Chargers. Chris Boswell's 36-yard field goal capped a 10-play, 57-yard drive highlighted by a 28-yard catch-and-run by Chase Claypool.

10:42 p.m. – What Went Right: It took until there was 12:52 left in the fourth quarter for the Steelers to force the Chargers to punt for the first time in the game, and then offsetting penalties had them to it over. On the second one, Miles Killebrew broke through and blocked the punt, and after the ball rolled out of the end zone, the Steelers took over at the 3-yard line.

10:48 p.m. – What Went Right: The Steelers capitalized and got the ball into the end zone, but they needed a pass. interference penalty on fourth-and-goal to save them. Against the worst run defense in the NFL, the only running play called was a handoff to Chase Claypool that lost 2 yards. After the pass interference penalty put the ball on the 1-yard line, Najee Harris vaulted over from the 1-yard line for the touchdown that made it 27-20 with 11:35 to play.

10:56 p.m. – What Went Wrong: The defense's inability to stop the Chargers was bad, but the unit completely botching the integrity of its rush lanes on Justin Herbert on third downs throughout the game was fatal. On a third-and-5 from the Pittsburgh 47-yard line, Herbert escaped and ran for 36 yards to the Steelers 11-yard line. Austin Ekeler scored his third touchdown, and the Chargers led, 34-20, with 8:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.

11:09 p.m. – What Went Right: The Steelers refused to capitulate, at least the offense did. It was a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass that closed the gap to 34-27 with 4:49 remaining in the fourth quarter. On the possession, Ben Roethlisberger completed 7-for-7 for 85 yards and the touchdown.

11:17 p.m. – What Went Right: The defense finally made a big play, and what a play it was. On second-and-10 from the 25-yard line, Cam Heyward batted a Justin Herbert pass into the air, and Cam Sutton made a diving interception of the ball at the 11-yard line. Three plays later, a tight end screen to Pat Freiermuth got the ball into the end zone thanks to great blocks by Chuks Okorafor and Kendrick Green. It was 34-34 with 4:23 left in the fourth quarter.

11:25 p.m. – What Went Right: Suddenly, it was big plays by the defense on back-to-back series. The second time it was Joe Schobert stoning Austin Ekeler on a fourth-and-1 from the 34-yard line. The Steelers took the ball, and then Chris Boswell's 45-yard field goal gave the Steelers a 37-34 lead with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter.

11:31 p.m. – What Went Wrong: The Chargers needed only three plays to cover 75 yards to take the lead, and the big play was a 53-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams when a blown coverage left him wide open down the sideline for what turned out to be the deciding touchdown with 2:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.

FINAL SCORE: Chargers 41, Steelers 37