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.
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
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
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
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.