A game-winning 29-yard field goal by Michael Badgley as time expired capped a 26-point second half for the Los Angeles Chargers, lifting them to a 33-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night at Heinz Field.
Badgley initially missed a 39-yard attempt but Pittsburgh was called for offsides. Badgley’s ensuing 34-yard attempt was blocked, but the Steelers were again flagged for offsides. He made his third attempt for the game-winner — with Pittsburgh again drawing the flag for offsides — but the Chargers obviously declined to claim the win.
“That was their way of icing (Badgley) I guess,” Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers said. “They had no more timeouts left. I think they were clearly offsides. It’s good to win on a kick like this.”
The Chargers, who trailed 23-7 at halftime, improved to 9-3 with eight wins in their last nine games.
The Steelers (7-4-1) have lost two straight games. They became the last NFL franchise to lose a home game after leading by 16 points or more. They are now 174-1-1 when leading by at least 16 at home.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said his team fell out of sync in the second half because of penalties he insinuated were questionable.
“We didn’t establish rhythm in the start of the second half because we had a couple of drives killed by penalties … holding penalties …it’s catastrophic,” he said. “I’m going to keep my mouth shut. I’m going to do that because I’ve sent enough money to New York.”
Rivers, who now has seven comeback wins in his career after being down by 16 points or more, completed 26 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Keenan Allen caught 14 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown.
Los Angeles rookie running back Justin Jackson rallied his team in the second-half comeback, with 82 total yards and a touchdown. He finished with 63 rushing yards on eight carries. Cornerback Desmond King also scored a second-half touchdown on a 73-yard punt return.
“The special teams stepped up,” said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, noting the game-winning field goal by Badgley and King’s punt return for a touchdown. “When you play on the road, you have to take the special teams with you. They’ve got to show up and they did tonight.
“It was a three-phase win from the offense, defense and special teams. All three phases kicked in.”
Pittsburgh started strong in the first quarter with a 46-yard reception by Antonio Brown that set up a 1-yard touchdown rush by James Conner to give the Steelers an early 7-0 lead.
Los Angeles went three-and-out on its next possession, which set the Steelers up at the Chargers’ 48-yard line. A six-play drive ended with another 1-yard touchdown run by Conner. A missed extra point made the score 13-0.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 281 yards and two scores. Brown caught 10 passes for a season-high 154 yards. Conner added 60 yards rushing and two touchdowns before leaving in the fourth quarter with a lower leg injury.
“Disappointing game in a lot of ways, first and foremost, the result,” Tomlin said. “The consequences, we’ll absorb it. We’ll be back.”
The Steelers remain closely ahead of Baltimore (7-5) in the AFC North. The Chargers trail Kansas City (10-2) by a game in the AFC West.
Toward the end of the first quarter, Rivers went deep and found wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who hauled in a 46-yard touchdown reception. It was Benjamin’s first touchdown since Week 17 of last season. Pittsburgh led 13-7 after one quarter.
With Pittsburgh threatening to score on its third straight possession, Chargers rookie safety Derwin James picked off Roethlisberger at Los Angeles’ 8-yard line. It was James’ third interception of the season, and second in as many games.
Pittsburgh made it 23-7 by halftime after a 28-yard touchdown reception by Brown.
The Chargers used a 13-play, 88-yard drive in the third quarter to cut into Pittsburgh’s lead. The touchdown pass by Rivers initially appeared to be an interception in the end zone, but Steelers cornerback Joe Haden collided with teammate safety Sean Davis, jarring the ball loose. The ball bounced into the arms of Allen for a 9-yard touchdown. Rivers found Gates for the two-point conversion, which made the score 23-15.
A holding penalty coupled with a Joey Bosa sack of Roethlisberger forced Pittsburgh to punt on its next possession, which led to King’s game-tying punt return touchdown.
“We’re some dogs. We’re going to take what we want and we did,” Allen said.
Los Angeles forced the Steelers into another three-and-out on their next possession. With an opportunity to take the lead, the Chargers utilized Jackson, who had an 18-yard rush, a 19-yard reception and a go-ahead 18-yard rushing touchdown that made the score 30-23.
The Steelers answered to tie the game with a 10-yard touchdown reception from Roethlisberger to running back Jaylen Samuels.
Badgley’s field goal with no time left ultimately won it.