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Bring on the Ravens; Steelers Top Chargers 35-24 to Advance to AFC Title Game

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.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. mark

    January 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Just a few observations on the game. Ben looked good, O-line played very well, FWP was VERY good.Like I said early in the week, and Im no genius, if the Steelers can run they will win. they did, and they did! Was it me or did Troy Polamalu play his worst game EVER?? I think its fair to hold him responsible for the last 14 points the Chargers Scored.How he missed Gates on 3rd and 10 when he had a running start and squared to his body was unreal, then he gets the 15 yard penalty on the same drive. To top off his day, he let Sproles run by him like he was standing still. I know Sproles is fast but Troy had the angle and the time to close. I really thought Troy played a bad game, at least in the 4th quarter. On another note, talking about a previous topic on whether to resign Nate Washington. I said yes before and I say YES now. Did anyone else see Limas Sweed drop that beautiful pass? Thats another reason to bring Nate back!Nate is a GOOD player and Sweed is a HUGE ???.
    Bring on the Ravens. Lets get the banter rolling.

  2. mark

    January 11, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    WHoops, I made a mistake. Polamalu whiffed on Chambers not Gates. Still no excuse, have to make that tackle. Not a good 2nd half for Troy.

  3. greg

    January 11, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    i agree about troy. in fact, i would suggest that he not only played a pretty awful game (what did he have, like 2 tackles?), but also that he might be a bit gimpy. i have no facts to back that up, other than what i saw with my own eyes, but he did not look comfortable, quick, or capable. that’s not the troy we know and love. something is amiss…

  4. mark

    January 12, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Greg, you could be right. That was not the Troy we have seen all year! The good thing is great players, which Troy is, usually only have 1 bad game and rebound pretty well. If he is healthy, I expect a BIG game next Sunday.

  5. Jay

    January 12, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Didn’t I say an 11 point win (okay, 24-13…35-24..) Still eleven…And yes, I have been on the Oline all year but that was their best performance and as predicted, if FWP went off, which he did, we win…it happenas again, we win again…Please, oline two more games like that and we’re 6 time world champions…About Troy, yeah, great players usually only have one bad game…he looked hesitant in trying to tackle Gates on that third and long…Oh, can we get some holding calls for James Harrison!!!!

  6. Larry

    January 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    You have to like the Steelers chances, However The Ravens win ugly. The Steelers cannot blow opportunities when they have them. That is what killed the Titans along with The Spirit of Myron Cope putting a curse on the Titans for the Terrible Towel Incident.

  7. mark

    January 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

    I definitely like the Steelers chances. To put it another way, I would rather be the Steelers then the Ravens in this game.Home field. healthy, beat this team 2x,division rival so no trouble getting ready or acclimated.
    Yes, the Ravens win ugly but the Steelers have ways of moving the ball and coming up with the big play on either side of the ball.

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