Rivers throws 3 TDs as Chargers spoil Roethlisberger’s return

Updated: December 10, 2012

Philip Rivers tossed a trio of touchdown passes on Sunday, as the San Diego Chargers spoiled the return of Ben Roethlisberger with a 34-24 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

Rivers completed 21-of-41 passes for 200 yards, while Danario Alexander hauled in seven passes for 88 yards and a pair of scores for the Chargers (5-8), who snapped a four-game skid to avoid locking up their first losing season on the six-season watch of coach Norv Turner.

The Chargers also added a defensive touchdown in the victory, their first ever regular-season win in Pittsburgh.

“No Chargers team has ever won here in the regular season so that was kind of my mantra here all week,” Rivers said. “It’s a good team win. We can enjoy this one for a little while.”

Roethlisberger missed the last three games due to a sprained right shoulder and an accompanying rib injury, but managed to throw for 285 yards and three scores with one interception on 22-of-42 passing.

Mike Wallace finished with seven catches for 112 yards and two scores for the Steelers (7-6), who were coming off a 23-20 triumph over rival Baltimore last weekend.

“It was a good performance by them, poor one by us,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin admitted. “We gotta accept responsibility for it and move on.”

Pittsburgh’s offense struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, giving the Chargers excellent field position throughout the opening 30 minutes.

Nick Novak buried a 51-yard field goal on San Diego’s second touch of the game, but the Chargers were unable to take advantage of the fortuitous starting position until late in the second quarter.

Starting from the Pittsburgh 48, the Chargers needed just three plays to score, as Alexander lost his defender with a double move before Rivers found him wide open down the left sideline for a 39-yard touchdown to make it 10-0 with 3:40 left in the half.

The Steelers turned it over on downs on their ensuing touch when Isaac Redman was stacked up at the line on 4th-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 47.

The Chargers quickly capitalized, as Novak knocked a 39-yarder through the uprights to extend the lead to 13-0 with under a minute left in the half.

Pittsburgh crossed midfield for the first time on its ensuing touch, as Roethlisberger bought time in the pocket and fired a 31-yard strike to Emmanuel Sanders to the San Diego 48.

Three plays later, Roethlisberger found Wallace over the middle for 17 yards and after a spike, Shaun Suisham buried a 49-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 13-3 heading into the locker room.

San Diego turned its first possession of the second half into points, as Rivers converted a trio of third downs before Ronnie Brown picked up another first down with a 17-yard surge on 3rd-and-13 down to the Pittsburgh 12.

Three plays later, Rivers picked up the biggest third down of the drive, as he found Michael Floyd for a 3-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-1 to cap the 17-play, 78-yard drive and give the visitors a 20-3 advantage.

San Diego then blew the game open with another touchdown just 12 seconds later.

On the first play of Pittsburgh’s ensuing drive, Roethlisberger threw a quick screen to Antonio Brown, but the ball bounced off the back of a blocker and rolled into the end zone.

The throw was ruled a backward pass and after Brown was unable to scoop up the loose ball, San Diego defensive back Quentin Jammer pounced on the fumble for a touchdown. The play was reviewed, but the ruling was upheld to give San Diego a 27-3 edge with 5:16 left in the third.

The Steelers answered quickly, as Roethlisberger scrambled for eight yards on 3rd-and-4 to keep the touch alive before finding Wallace deep down the field two plays later for a 40-yard touchdown to trim the margin to 27-10.

After a San Diego punt, Pittsburgh got the ball at their own 6-yard line, but on the second play of the possession, Roethlisberger was picked off by Bront Bird at the Pittsburgh 17.

Two plays later, Rivers floated a pass for Alexander in the front of the end zone and the wideout out-leaped his defender and hauled in the 15-yard score to make it 34-10 with under 10 minutes left in the game.

Pittsburgh answered with a scoring march, as Roethlisberger converted a pair of third downs before capping the 10-play trek with an 11-yard TD toss to Wallace to cut the margin to 34-17 with just over six minutes left.

Roethlisberger added a 1-yard touchdown pass to Brown with less than a minute left, but the Steelers’ ensuing onside kick was recovered by San Diego and the Chargers ran out the remainder of the clock.