Steelers 24, Chargers 22

Preview | Box Score | Recap

SAN DIEGO (AP)—It’s a good thing the Bus is back, because now the Pittsburgh Steelers could be without Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger was helped off the field with an apparent knee injury shortly before Jeff Reed kicked a 40-yard field goal with 6 seconds left to give the Steelers a 24-22 win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night.

Roethlisberger thrust both fists in the air in celebration from the bench, his left leg wrapped in ice and bandages.

“He laid it on the line,” receiver Hines Ward said of the second-year quarterback. “He’s lying there hurt on the ground, and he said to me, ‘At least we’re in field goal range.”’

Steelers coach Bill Cowher had no information on the exact nature or severity of his QB’s injury.

“It looked bad from what I saw up on the screen,” Cowher said.

Trailing 22-21 in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger moved the Steelers into San Diego territory and had completed a 9-yard pass to Antwaan Randle El when he was hit on the knee by the helmet of Chargers rookie lineman Luis Castillo.

Roethlisberger, whose knee was bent back awkwardly on the hit, was driven off the field on a cart after the final gun.

Roethlisberger was replaced by Charlie Batch, who has played only a handful of downs the last three years. Batch handed off three straight times to Jerome Bettis before Reed’s kick.

The Bus carried seven times for 21 yards on the winning drive.

“I went to Charlie and said, `Give it to me, look it all the way in, follow me as I go through, and I’ll do the rest,”’ said Bettis, who missed the first three games with a calf injury sustained during the exhibition season.

Roethlisberger ran for one touchdown and threw for another, and Bettis rushed for a TD in his season debut for the Steelers (3-1). San Diego (2-3) had its two-game winning streak snapped.

“I feel great, I feel fresh,” Bettis said after scoring a touchdown in his season debut.

San Diego had gone ahead on LaDainian Tomlinson’s 2-yard run with 4:42 left. Tomlinson was stuffed on a two-point conversion attempt that would have given the Chargers a 24-21 lead.

“It’s 50-50 there,” Chargers quarterback Drew Brees said. “Give it to the best running back in the league or throw it to the best tight end in the league,” he said, referring to Antonio Gates.

Tomlinson extended his NFL record by scoring a rushing touchdown in 17 straight games.

Stung by a loss to New England 15 days earlier and coming off their bye, the Steelers bounced back with a crisp game by Roethlisberger and the defense, which made Tomlinson and the rest of the San Diego offense look average.

Tomlinson was held to 62 yards on 18 carries. Brees threw his first interception in three games, which set up Bettis’ TD run.

“That was probably the best defense I’ve faced as far as the run game in my career,” Tomlinson said.

Roethlisberger gave the Steelers a 21-16 lead on a 16-yard pass to Heath Miller with 10:30 to go. He was impressive on the go-ahead drive, completing it in only three passes. Starting on the Pittsburgh 38, the second-year pro had completions of 33 and 13 yards to Ward before hitting Miller for the touchdown.

Roethlisberger was 17-of-26 passing for 225 yards, with no interceptions. Bettis gained 54 yards on 17 carries.

Bettis and Roethlisberger both scored in the second quarter. On third-and-5 from the Chargers 7, Roethlisberger lined up in the shotgun, took the snap and scrambled into the end zone.

His TD came four plays after his apparent 47-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward was overturned after a challenge by Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer.

Bettis scored on a 1-yard run. which capped a drive set up when James Harrison intercepted Brees, hurdled Tomlinson and gained 25 yards before being tripped up by Brees. An unnecessary roughness call against Chargers guard Kris Dielman added 15 yards.

San Diego pulled to 14-7 on an 11-yard scoring pass from Brees to Gates with 34 seconds left before halftime. That drive started after a 48-yard kickoff return by rookie Darren Sproles.

The Chargers had gone ahead 16-14 on Nate Kaeding’s third field goal of the second half, from 41 yards with 11:41 to play. Kaeding also had field goals of 34 and 32 yards in the third quarter.

Kaeding’s 32-yarder, with 3:54 left in the third, came one play after Willie Williams broke up a pass from Brees to Gates in the end zone.

Notes

San Diego had scored 12 touchdowns in 15 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line coming in, but was held to one TD and two field goals the three times they got inside the Steelers 20. … The game drew a Chargers record crowd of 68,537.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Pittsburgh
B. Roethlisberger B. Roethlisberger QB
17-26, 225 yds
1 TD
2 Rush, 15 yds, 1 TD
 San Diego
L. Tomlinson L. Tomlinson RB
18 Rush, 62 yds
1 TD

Team Stat Leaders

Passing Yards
Rushing Yards
Receiving Yards

Scoreboard

Preseason
  Thursday, Aug 25  
  Atlanta
Jacksonville 23
7 Final
      Friday, Aug 26  
  Cincinnati
Philadelphia 17
27 Final
     
  Baltimore
New Orleans 21
6 Final
     
  Buffalo
Chicago 12
16 Final
     
  Carolina
Cleveland 23
20 Final
     
  New England
Green Bay 27
3 Final
     
  San Diego
Minnesota 16
19 Final
     
  NY Jets
NY Giants 14
15 Final
     
  Pittsburgh
Washington 10
17 Final
     
  Tennessee
San Francisco 13
16 Final
OT
     
  Arizona
Oakland 17
16 Final
      Saturday, Aug 27  
  Tampa Bay
Miami 14
17 Final
     
  Houston
Dallas 9
21 Final
     
  Indianapolis
Denver 24
37 Final
     
  Seattle
Kansas City 23
17 Final
      Monday, Aug 29  
  St. Louis
Detroit 37
13 Final