The Los Angeles Chargers were outrageously lucky to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. The 33-30 wasn’t exactly undeserved — the Chargers outgained the Steelers on the night — but Los Angeles definitely got some breaks along the way.
And you know what? Good for them.
The Chargers spent years stepping on rakes. In 2017, their 0-4 start to the year had four losses so improbable that a Wall Street Journal analyst calculated there were one-in-30-million odds a team wouldn’t win at least one of those games.
So it’s only right that the football gods swung the pendulum and turned the Chargers into the luckiest damn team in the league.
The Chargers got 3 chances to kick a game-winning field goal
When Chargers kicker Michael Badgley tried to uphold the team’s proud tradition of missing game-winning field goal attempts, an offsides penalty on the Steelers gave him another try. That second try was blocked. But again, an offsides penalty gave him another try.
Badgley had already missed a 52-yard field goal earlier in the game, but his game-winning try was knocked down to a chip shot due to all the offsides penalties
With the Steelers completely ignoring the rules of the line of scrimmage, Badgley finally kicked the game-winner through from 29 yards.
Any other year and the Chargers would’ve missed the field goal. Or had it blocked. Anything but the other team self-destructing and affording the Chargers endless chances to win.
But that wasn’t even close to the only lucky moment of the game for the Chargers. They were fortunate to even be in the game after a slow start.
Ben Roethlisberger cost the Steelers a bigger halftime lead
Pittsburgh dominated in the first two quarters. Antonio Brown had 117 receiving yards by halftime, and the Steelers jumped out to a 23-7 lead.
It could’ve been an even bigger deficit for the Chargers too if Ben Roethlisberger hadn’t made a pair of costly mistakes to blow scoring chances. He missed a wide open Justin Hunter for what should’ve been a touchdown and lofted an easy interception to Derwin James.
It was still all Pittsburgh in the first half, but Roethlisberger’s errors kept the game within reach for the Chargers.
The Chargers scored a touchdown on a clear false start
Seven weeks after the Chargers scored a touchdown thanks to an obvious false start that was missed, the same exact thing happened again Sunday.
Right tackle Sam Tevi clearly jumped early on a play near the end of the first quarter, but no false start was called. Philip Rivers took advantage with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin:
The first time it happened back in Week 6, the official who missed the call was fired. If the same happens this time around, it won’t do the Steelers much good.
2 Steelers collided to give an easy touchdown to Keenan Allen
In the second half, the Chargers had an even luckier touchdown. A pass from Rivers somehow bounced into Keenan Allen’s hands only because two Steelers defenders destroyed each other:
The play probably should’ve been a costly interception for Rivers. Instead, the touchdown cut the Steelers’ lead to eight points.
Another missed penalty helped the Chargers tie the game
The Chargers finally tied up the game with a 73-yard punt return touchdown from Desmond King followed by a two-point conversion. But even that involved some good fortune for the Chargers when Rayshawn Jenkins got away with what was awfully close to a block in the back.
The block isn’t square in the middle of the player’s back, but penalties have been called for less.
But nope, the Chargers got the benefit of the doubt and — eventually — the win.
The Sunday Night Football matchup between the Chargers and Steelers may not be the last time the teams face each other this season. As of right now, the Steelers are in line for the No. 4 seed in the AFC and the Chargers are set for the No. 5 seed, which would mean a meeting in the Wild Card Round.
Maybe the karma would swing back in the Steelers’ favor in the rematch. But for now, the Chargers are riding a wave of talent and fortune that makes them awfully hard to beat.