Tim Benz: Steelers’ feats of strength after 24-17 win over Chargers
The Pittsburgh Steelers were traveling to the West Coast — where they are always bad — to play the Los Angeles Chargers. They were banged up, absent eight regulars. And they had to start third-string quarterback Devlin “Duck Dynasty” Hodges.
So I had the “Airing of Grievances” template ready to go.
Much to my surprise, though, I was able to dust off the “Feats of Strength” for just the second time this year as the Duck flew high, leading the Steelers to a 24-17 win.
Devin over Devlin
Don’t get me wrong. Hodges was plenty good in his first NFL start.
But Devin Bush stood out with two turnovers in the first half, including one for a touchdown.
Devin Bush is MAKING PLAYS.
The former Michigan LB scooped a fumble and took it in for a Steelers TD. pic.twitter.com/rKWVgAktZN
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 14, 2019
DEVIN BUSH IS TAKING OVER SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL pic.twitter.com/ErSu4Qj7jV
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 14, 2019
Bush now has six turnovers in his first six NFL games.
He also battled through an ankle injury in the second half, and ended up with seven tackles.
All about the backups
Stephon Tuitt left the game with a pectoral injury.
That sounds bad.
Let’s hope this isn’t the latest season-altering malady for Tuitt. He’s had too many of those in recent seasons that otherwise could’ve been blockbusters for him.
It was a knee problem in 2016, a torn biceps in 2017 and an elbow injury last year.
But Tyson Alualu stepped up in his absence to create havoc along that Los Angeles offensive line and deflected the ball that Bush intercepted.
Anthony Chickillo also subbed for Bud Dupree and picked up a sack.
The running backs
With Jaylen Samuels inactive thanks to a knee injury, Benny Snell joined James Conner to have a positive impact on the game.
Snell had 75 yards and 15 carries in his greatest exposure of 2019. Meanwhile, Conner was the team’s top receiver with seven catches, 78 yards and this touchdown.
Casual Stroll to the End Zone
James Conner breaks a tackle and breezes into his 2nd Touchdown of the day
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) October 14, 2019
That was Hodges’ first touchdown throw, although Conner did most of the work. Both he and Snell were good after contact, breaking multiple tackles along the way.
And, most importantly, making things easier than expected on Hodges.
Duck and cover
Not only did the Duck cover the spread, he got the win.
Hodges didn’t have to do much, totaling just 140 yards from scrimmage. The defense and the running game took care of business on his behalf.
“Duck” wasn’t just a passenger, though. Aside from his one interception, Hodges was accurate, completing 15-of-20 passes.
— Benstonium (@Benstonium) October 14, 2019
The next evolution of Hodges’ game will be to get the wide receivers involved in the passing game. They combined for just five catches and 30 yards.
Special teams actually special
Head coach Mike Tomlin aired out his special teams after the loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
They came up huge twice late in the win against the Chargers.
Jordan Berry’s punt on fourth-and-1 from the Los Angeles 35-yard line was clutch. He dropped it on the one-yard line and Johnny Holton touched it up.
That was the right call to punt there, given that there was only 1:11 left to play, up a touchdown. It forced the Chargers to have to go the full 99 yards for a score in an attempt to tie the game, with no timeouts left.
Also, Cam Sutton’s acrobatic recovery of a fourth-quarter onside kick before that possession at the end of the game was fantastic.
Sutton complemented that play with this game-sealing interception.
— More Important Issues (@More_Issues) October 14, 2019
And he totaled three pass-breakups, including this one in the end zone.
— Oliver Davis II (@I_Am_OD3) October 14, 2019
Sutton was one of the stars of the evening.