The Los Angeles Chargers improved to 9-3 on the season after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-30.
Offense: Keenan Allen – Keenan Allen had a game for the ages on Sunday. He consistently made big plays throughout the game – not to mention his clutch touchdown! Allen, who was targeted a team-high 19 times and finished the game catching 14 passes for 148 yards. The latter two stats are also team-highs for the game. It was his 21st career 100-yard game. His 14 receptions brought him to 406 career catches to pass WR Gary Garrison (404) for sixth in team history. Allen’s touchdown catch was the 27th of his career, tying with WR Don Norton for the 12th-most touchdown receptions in Chargers history.
Defense: Derwin James – Charger fans know how much of an impact Derwin James has made this season. But on Sunday, he showed a national audience why he is in contention for Defensive Rookie of the Year. James had a key red zone interception of Ben Roethlisberger, his third pick of the season. With that, he became the first player to have at least three picks and three sacks in a single season since 2016 (Pittsburgh LB Ryan Shazier and Giants S Landon Collins). James is the first rookie to do so since LB Zach Brown in 2012 with Tennessee. Along with the INT, he finished the game with three total tackles and three passes defensed.
Unsung Hero: Justin Jackson – We saw Justin Jackson’s ability last week against the Cardinals, but when he got in the game against the Steelers in the second half, his work contributed to the team’s win. He had 12 yards in the third quarter on a drive that led to the Bolts’ first score since the first quarter of play. But it was in the fourth where he really impacted the game. Along with rushing for his first NFL touchdown, he helped move the chains on the final drive to set up the game-winning field goal. He finished the game with eight carries for a team-high 63 yards (7.9 ypc) and the one score on the ground. Additionally, he had one reception for 19 yards.
Stat of the Game:
With two touchdown passes on the day, Philip Rivers has now thrown at least a pair of TD strikes in 13 straight games. That’s the second-longest streak in NFL history.
Play of the Game:
After bringing the game within eight in the third, the Chargers entered the fourth quarter needing a spark. It came via Desmond King on a punt return touchdown. After forcing a Steelers punt, King backpedaled to the Chargers’ 27 to corral the ball. He then zig-zagged his way through the middle of the field until he ran up the right sideline and into the end zone for the 73-yard score.
After the Chargers scored 23 unanswered points in the second half, the Steelers came back in the fourth on one two-play drive that took almost four full minutes to tie it 30-30. The Bolts got the ball back with 4:10 left in the game and never looked back. They assembled an 11-play, 64-yard drive that was capped off with a field goal.
It Was Over When:
Michael Badgley’s third field goal was the charm after two penalties against the Steelers caused a pair of missed field goals. His third try, a 29-yard field goal with no time on the clock, went through the uprights and got the Bolts their ninth win of the season.
“We said, this is a statement game. This game will really prove, not only to the world, but more importantly to us, are we a playoff caliber team? Are we a capable team? Because all the other – the games before we had that, we were playing high caliber teams, we weren’t able to come through. We made too many mistakes. We were constantly digging ourselves out of the hole. Arguably, that happened in this game but the finish, there’s nothing like that and I think we really proved that we’re the new Chargers for sure.” – T Russell Okung
“When my number was called, it was just go out there and make a play. It’s football, man. It’s what we live for. Being in that type of environment, the game on the line, it’s what you dream about, right? But you don’t make it that big. You just go out there and you play. You don’t hear anything, you just play.” – RB Justin Jackson
“It’s more meaningful that we could come into Pittsburgh and get a team win. Come back from the way we did and finish them off like that, it’s awesome. I’m glad I was able to do my job at the end of the game there and win this.” – K Michael Badgley
Odds and Ends
The Chargers improved to 9-3 for the sixth time in team history and the first since 2009. It marked the team’s second-ever win in Pittsburgh (Dec. 9, 2012).
The Bolts outgained the Steelers 371 to 336 in total yardage. They held an 85-65 advantage on the ground and 286-271 edge through the air.
Jatavis Brown paced the defense with 11 total tackles. Joey Bosa had the team’s lone sack of the game.
Desmond King’s punt return touchdown made him the 15th player in team history to score a punt return TD. Coupled with an interception returned for a score against Seattle, King became the first player since 2011 (CB Lardarius Webb) to register a punt return touchdown and a pick-six in the same season. He is just the seventh player since 2000 to accomplish that feat in a season.
Mike Pouncey and Sam Tevi served as honorary captains.
Inactives for the Chargers included Melvin Gordon, Jeff Richards, Chris Landrum, Cole Toner, Joe Barksdale, Forrest Lamp and Brandon Mebane.
Browse through the top game action photos from Sunday Night Football as the Bolts take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field for Week 13.