Tuesday, October 11, 2005

GO STEELERS Steelers defeat Chargers, 24-22, in a fantastic finish By Teresa Varley Monday Night Football is all about excitement and there was plenty of that as the Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers, 24-22, on a Jeff Reed 40-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the game. The Steelers jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and then the Chargers rattled off 16 unanswered points. The teams then exchanged touchdowns in the fourth quarter, before Reed came on to win the game and improve the Steelers record to 3-1. “It was a classic football game,” said head coach Bill Cowher. “Those are two good football teams that played out there tonight. We are fortunate we had the football last.” Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went out of the game on the final drive with a left knee injury. Roethlisberger was 17 for 26 for 225 yards and one touchdown before suffering the injury, of which the extent is not known. Running back Jerome Bettis returned for his first game of the season and had 17 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, and also converted on several key third downs late in the game. “I feel great. I feel fresh,” said Bettis. “And officially I am back.” Wide receiver Hines Ward, who played despite a hamstring injury, had six receptions for 83 yards and knew what a dog fight it was. “We did what we had to do,” said Ward. “We fought hard. Everyone went out there and made plays. We found a way to win.” One of the keys for the Steelers defense was shutting down LaDainian Tomlinson and they were able to hold him to 62 yards on 18 carries. Quarterback Drew Brees completed 20 of 35 passes for 219 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The game started out as a defensive struggle as neither team was able to do anything on their first two possessions. The Steelers were driving on their third possession with Jerome Bettis getting in the action for the first time this season. Bettis caught a 16-yard pass from Roethlisberger and then had a four-yard run. On first-and-10 from the Chargers 31-yard line Bettis had an 11-yard run, but it was called back after Jeff Hartings was flagged for holding. Shawne Merriman sacked Roethlisberger on the next play, he fumbled and Randall Godfrey recovered it, ending the drive. The defense held on the Chargers next drive and gave Roethlisberger a chance to shake off the turnover. The Steelers started on their own 16, but were backed up to the 11-yard line after an illegal formation penalty. The Steelers then benefited from the official’s flags as a 20-yard pass interference call gave them the ball at their own 36-yard line. Roethlisberger hit Ward for a 12-yard pass, and then two short runs by Bettis gave them third down on the Chargers 47-yard line. Roethlisberger hit Ward again, and he went down at the 33-yard line, but appeared untouched and took it into the end zone for an apparent touchdown. The Chargers challenged the call, and the touchdown was overturned, ruling Ward down. The Steelers were unfazed by the call and on the next play Antwaan Randle El pulled in a 21-yard reception. Roethlisberger then capped the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run, giving the Steelers a 7-0 lead. Drew Brees got the Chargers offense moving, but James Harrison put a stop to it with an interception and a 25-yard return. A personal foul penalty tacked on 15 more yards, giving the Steelers the ball at the Chargers 41-yard line. The offense went to work and had to pound it in from the goal line, with Bettis scoring his first touchdown of the season on a one-yard run to give the Steelers a 14-0 lead. But the Chargers came back quick when Darren Sproles returned the kickoff 48 yards to the Steelers 47-yard line. Four plays later Brees hit Antonio Gates for an 11-yard touchdown, closing the gap to 14-7 at the half. The Chargers kept their momentum going in the second half. After not scoring on their first drive of the second half, then Nate Keading hit field goals of 32, 34 and 41 yards on the next three possessions, giving the Chargers a 16-14 lead and rattling off 16 unanswered points. It wouldn’t take long for the Steelers to swing things back their way, though. Quincy Morgan returned the kickoff 37 yards to the Steelers 38-yard line, giving them good field possession. Roethlisberger hit Ward for a 33-yard gain, and then went right back to him for a 13-yard completion. He then hit Heath Miller with a 16-yard touchdown pass, taking back the lead at 21-16. As quick as the Steelers answered, the Chargers came fighting right back. Sproles had a 31-yard kickoff return and then Brees and Tomlinson went to work. They capped the 62-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Tomlinson. The Chargers went for two, but the attempt failed, giving San Diego a 22-21 lead. But the Steelers wouldn’t quit. They got the ball back at their own 38-yard line with 4:36 remaining in the game. Bettis converted two huge third-and-one conversions, but late in the drive Roethlisberger went off with a left leg injury. Charlie Batch came in and handed off to Bettis, setting Reed up for his 40-yard field goal, giving the Steelers the 24-22 win. Official Site for the Steelers--click here

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