Monday, November 17, 2008
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Steelers beat Chargers in NFL's first 11-10 game

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[November 17, 2008]  PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The only thing perfect on a snowy, frigid day when the weather and the offenses were equally awful was San Diego's regular-season record in Pittsburgh.

RestaurantMake it 0-13, losing the first 11-10 final in NFL history.

Ben Roethlisberger stayed away from the mistakes that cost the Steelers their previous two home games, Willie Parker ran for 115 yards and Jeff Reed's third field goal won it -- a 32-yarder with 11 seconds remaining -- as Pittsburgh rallied to beat the Chargers on Sunday.

The unusual final score was the first in NFL history, and it was in jeopardy when Troy Polamalu returned an errant lateral 12 yards for an apparent touchdown on the final play. But the play was overturned on review -- it was called an illegal forward pass -- and the 11-10 final was restored.

The NFL had two oddities in AFC North cities in the same day, a 13-13 Eagles-Bengals final in Cincinnati that was the league's first tie since a Falcons-Steelers game in 2002 and the first 11-10 game in 12,837 NFL games.

Nate Kaeding put San Diego (4-6) up 10-8 with a 22-yard field goal with 6:41 to play, after missing from the 41 in the third quarter with the Steelers (7-3) leading 8-7.

Kaeding's miss came at Heinz Field's open end, where breezes blowing off the nearby three rivers cause tricky kicking conditions, but Reed made his decisive kick at the same end following a 13-play, 73-yard drive.

The Steelers outgained the Chargers 410-213, and most teams with a 300-yard passer and a 115-yard rusher normally have plenty of offense. But the Steelers couldn't get into the end zone even as Roethlisberger went 31-of-41 for 308 yards, partly because they had 13 penalties for 115 yards to San Diego's two for 5 yards.

A snow squall about 45 minutes before the late-afternoon kickoff left Heinz's grass surface snowy white at the start and snow splotches remained the rest of the game. The typical mid-November conditions were a visible reminder of the warm-weather Chargers' struggles in Pittsburgh, where they have never won a regular-season game, although they are 2-0 there in the playoffs. The game-time temperature of 35 felt like 26 because of a sporadic wind.

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Roethlisberger wasn't intercepted after being picked off eight times, with only one touchdown pass, in his previous three games, including seven interceptions against the Colts and Giants. No matter, the Steelers' only scoring drives ended with field goals of 21, 41 and 32 yards by Reed.

Reed's 21-yarder came on the final play before halftime and followed linebacker James Harrison's interception of Philip Rivers' pass on a first-down play that began with the Chargers driving at the Steelers 17 -- a big swing in momentum. Rivers, the AFC's most efficient quarterback coming in, was 15-of-26 for 159 yards and two interceptions.

The Steelers' only other first-half scoring came when Harrison -- yes, him again -- sacked Rivers on a third-and-9 play from the San Diego 3, with the quarterback fumbling and left tackle Marcus McNeill recovering deep in his own end zone for a safety that made it 7-2.

The Chargers, coming off a 20-19 win over Kansas City that followed three losses in four games, led 7-0 after LaDainian Tomlinson scored on a 3-yard run midway through the first period, his first scoring run in 93 carries. He ended with 57 yards on 18 carries. San Diego began that drive at its own 41 after Reed couldn't convert from 51 yards out on a slippery turf, his first miss in 20 attempts.

[Associated Press; By ALAN ROBINSON]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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