A steady game plan based around the run was needed for Devlin Hodges’ first start in the NFL and that is what Randy Fichtner provided. A revitalised James Conner shrugged off tackles to contribute a combined 119 yards and was complemented by Benny Snell’s 75 yards on the ground.
While the pair set the offense alight, the defense was also on fire. They were tenacious with their assault on Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers. They held him to 111 yards in the first half while the offense built a 21-0 lead.
Steeler Nation played their part and made the Steelers feel as though they were playing at home. All in all, for Hodges first game, I’m sure that Steeler fans cannot be disappointed with their second win of the season.
On the Chargers second series of the game, Devin Bush recovered a Rivers’ lateral pass that overshot Melvin Gordon. As it rolled around the turf, Bush alertly picked it up and ran 9 yards into the end zone for the opening score.
That set the tone of the game as the Steelers defense continued to hustle Rivers. On Los Angeles’ next possession, Bush became the first Steelers’ rookie since Delton Hall in 1987 to return a fumble for a touchdown and intercept a pass in the same game. That interception gave the Steelers a short field and James Conner finished the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run.
Conner also finished a 14-play drive of 75 yards in the second quarter when he pulled in Hodges’ first NFL career touchdown pass from 26 yards.
On their first possession of the second half, the Steelers extended their lead with a field goal, but the Chargers then put some life into their game. In the final period they surprisingly settled for an early field goal when 24 points behind.
Hodges’ first interception, a long pass intended for Johnny Horton, gave the Chargers seven points from the turnover. When the Steelers went three and out on their next series, Rivers led his team to another touchdown, reducing the Chargers’ deficit to one score.
With just 1:29 remaining, the Chargers onside kick failed. After the Steelers failed to move the chains, it was left to their defense to complete the win. Cam Sutton’s interception saw the Steelers finish with a 24-17 victory.
The Steelers finished 8 of 13 on third downs in the game, the first time this season they managed more than three third down conversions in a game. The Steelers domination was reflected in their 34:05 time of possession.
Devin Bush was the Digest Player of the Week and who could argue with that. His turnovers in the first ten minutes gave his team the safety net they needed with a rookie quarterback starting his first game.