L.A. Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH – Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger meet up again when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. The two members of the 2004 NFL Draft class are thriving in their 15th seasons with Rivers coming off a record-setting performance in last week’s 45-10 rout of the Arizona Cardinals.
Rivers set NFL single-game records for completion percentage (96.6) and consecutive completions (25) during a 28-of-29 performance in which he tossed three touchdown passes. “He is an MVP caliber player, playing at an MVP level now,” Roethlisberger told reporters of Rivers. “What he did last week was pretty spectacular … 25 in a row. It’s easy because he is a quarterback to keep track of what he is doing. It’s fun to watch a guy like that play.” Rivers understands why he is linked with Roethlisberger – Eli Manning was also a member of the draft class – but says it will be more than quarterback play that decides Sunday’s game. “He’s been a heck of a player for them for a long time,” Rivers told reporters. “Again, it’s never about the other quarterback. You have to worry about that defense. But it’s always awesome going against those teams led by those kind of guys.”
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Steelers -3.5. O/U: 51.5
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (8-3): Rivers has thrown multiple touchdown passes in each game this season while passing for 3,119 yards and 26 scores against six interceptions. Standout running back Melvin Gordon (knee) will miss the contest so Austin Ekeler (409 yards, 5.8 average) will get the call and the club hopes he performs better than his previous start this season (42 yards on 12 carries against Tennessee). Standout defensive end Joey Bosa displayed he is fully recovered from the foot injury that caused him to miss the first nine games by recording two sacks against the Cardinals.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (7-3-1): Roethlisberger passed for a season-best 462 yards – his second time over 450 this season – in last Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos and has thrown for 3,664 yards and 24 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. Longtime star Antonio Brown (71 receptions, 874 yards) is tied for the NFL lead with 11 touchdown catches but currently trails teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster (77 for 1,055) for the Pittsburgh lead in receptions and yardage. Linebacker T.J. Watt (10 sacks) has emerged as a force in his second NFL season and has recorded three sacks in two different contests.
1. The Chargers are 1-14 in the regular season at Pittsburgh but also won in the Steel City in the 1994 AFC Championship Game to reach their lone Super Bowl.
2. Steelers RB James Conner (849 yards) has only 143 over the past three games after compiling four straight 100-yard outings.
3. Los Angeles WR Keenan Allen (69 catches) has at least five receptions in each of the past five games.