This time, they made sure not to leave it up to a late kick.
Taking care of business with a clutch end of the first half touchdown drive and a time consuming touchdown drive at the start of the third quarter, the Steelers took care of business Sunday, beating the Chargers 35-24 to advance to the AFC Championship game next Sunday at home vs the rival Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers turned the game around after trailing 10-7 with 1:52 remaining in the half, as they drove 66 yards in 7 plays, and scored on a Willie Parker three-yard touchdown to make it 14-10. The big play in the drive was a Ben Roethlisberger 15-yard pass play to Santonio Holmes to get to the 49, and then a Ben throw to Hines Ward for 13 yards to get to the Chargers 26.
After the half, the team put the game away on their first drive of the third quarter, as they took the kickoff and went 13 plays and 77 yards in 7:56, and ended the drive with Roethlisberger hitting tight end Heath Miller for an 8-yard score to make it 21-10. The drive was key in that the team converted three third down conversions to keep the offense on the field.
The special teams then allowed the Chargers Darren Sproles a 63-yard kick return to the Steelers 23, but the defense stepped up with a big play. On first down, Philip Rivers’ pass was tipped and Larry Foote made a diving pick to stop the Chargers scoring threat.
The Steelers put the game away early in the fourth quarter, as they got the ball at the Chargers 49 after the defense stopped the Chargers deep, and Roethlisberger went for the kill with a deep ball in the end zone to Washington. The wide out drew a big pass interference call that put the ball at the one, and Gary Russell went in from a yard out to make it 28-10.
San Diego did comeback, as they scored on a four-yard pass from Rivers to Legedu Naanee to make 28-17 with 9:09 remaining. The Steelers came right back though, as they went 73 yards in 9 plays, and the drive was capped off by Parker going in from 16 yards out to make it 35-17. San Diego scored a late TD to wrap up the scoring at 35-24.
Roethlisberger was 17-for-26 for 181 yards and a touchdown. Parker was as good as he’s been all year, as he ran for 146 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.
Rivers was 21-for-35 for 308 yards with three TD’s and a pick. Sproles was held in check, as he had just 15 yards rushing on 11 carries, and 91 yards on five catches including a TD.