Chargers avoid mistakes, upset Steelers 34-24

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm •  Published: December 9, 2012
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Norv Turner looked nothing like a man who earlier this week was reportedly certain to be fired at the end of the season.

His San Diego Chargers played nothing like a team that had won only once since September.

Philip Rivers threw three touchdown passes, two to Danario Alexander, and the Chargers snapped a four-game losing streak by shocking the Steelers 34-24.

"They hung together, and I think that starts because they care about each other," Turner said. "They play for each other. They've not been distracted by a lot of the things going on outside, and continued to prepare."

The Chargers have been one of the NFL's biggest disappointments after a 3-1 start evaporated into a 1-7 slide, That fueled speculation Turner and general manager A.J. Smith could be fired at season's end.

The Chargers (5-8) didn't necessarily win this one for Norv, Rivers said. And the franchise's first win in Pittsburgh in 15 regular-season tries probably just delayed the inevitable when it comes to their elimination from the playoffs.

But San Diego dominated from the outset, never letting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger get comfortable in his first game in nearly a month.

"In these situations, it's easy to be distracted as a staff," Turner said. "These guys want to have a career. They want to have a job. They want to have a chance to be successful."

The Chargers certainly were on Sunday, playing with a focus and discipline they've lacked for much of this season. The injury-ravaged offensive line kept Rivers out of harm's way and helped him convert 12 of 22 third downs, allowing San Diego to chew up the clock and keep Roethlisberger from getting going while the game was still competitive.

Right tackle Kevin Haslam made his first career start, Reggie Wells started at right tackle five days after signing with San Diego, and Rex Hadnot made only his second start of the season at center.

Also signed earlier this week, Colin Baxter was pressed into action on the line, too.

"This isn't necessarily the team we thought we'd have on the field in December," said Rivers, "but this is the type of performance we thought we'd put together."

Roethlisberger, less than a month removed from a punishing hit against Kansas City that nearly sent one of his ribs into his aorta, completed 22 of 42 passes for 285 yards and three second-half touchdowns. But he also threw an interception and had a botched screen pass turn into an easy San Diego score as Pittsburgh (7-6) hardly looked like a team readying for a postseason run.

"We felt like we missed a lot of plays out there," Roethlisberger said. "I missed a lot of throws. I threw it to them once. We all have to play better."

San Diego took a 13-3 lead during an ugly first half that made it difficult to tell which team was trying to get back into the postseason and which was simply playing out the season.

"We'll enjoy the heck out of this because it's a heck of a win," Rivers said. "But then when you have the time of reflection at the end of the year, we'll be sick we didn't find a way the last two weeks because we'd be right in the thick of it."



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