PITTSBURGH – Norv Turner looked nothing like a man who last 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.
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.
Rivers hit a wide-open Alexander on a 39-yard touchdown pass and Nick Novak added a 39-yard field goal to make it 13-0.
We obviously don’t have enough urgency, much consistency, Steelers receiver Mike Wallace said. We have to pick it up. We have to.
Any boost for the Steelers disappeared during the first 10 minutes of the third quarter, when San Diego converted five straight third downs during a 17-play drive capped by a TD pass to Malcom Floyd.
Best drive of the year, Rivers said. That one will be fun to watch over and over again.
The possession chewed 9:32 off the clock to give San Diego a 20-3 lead. The Chargers needed barely 10 seconds to put the game away.
Backed up yet again, Roethlisberger tried to hit Brown on a screen pass. It caromed off tight end David Paulson’s rear and rolled into the end zone, where Quentin Jammer fell on it.
The play was upheld by a review, confirming the score to give the Chargers a 27-3 lead and a brief moment of joy in a year full of chaos.