The Steelers beat the Chargers 35-24 to earn a berth in the AFC Championship game. They were the only team to win at home this weekend -- and it was coach Mike Tomlin's first playoff win in his career,
The Chargers started out with a bang -- a 41-yard Philip Rivers touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson in the first series of the game. Pittsburgh responded with a Santonio Holmes punt return for a touchdown.
Going into halftime, the Steelers led by just four points, and it appeared that the game would be a back and forth battle. Tomlin must have given a halftime talk for the ages as the game completely changed when they came out of the locker room.
The Steelers had possibly the most dominant third quarter in the history of the NFL postseason. Pittsburgh started the quarter with a long drive for a touchdown. They allowed the Chargers only one snap of the football, and 17 seconds of possession time. Rivers threw an interception in that one play. Later in the quarter, Eric Weddle muffed the return of a punt, and the Steelers recovered.
Willie Parker, who battled injuries during the season, proved that he can be football's Mr. January, turning in 146 yards and two touchdowns. Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger, too, came into the game with questions about his ability to play. He sustained a concussion in Pittsburgh's final regular season game but he showed he was just fine as he threw a touchdown and for 181 yards. Hines Ward had four catches for 70 yards.
Pittsburgh's defense was especially overwhelming. They sacked Rivers four times and only allowed them the Chargers 290 total yards. San Diego converted on just five third down situations.
The Chargers, without LaDainian Tomlinson, did not have the same offensive explosion that they had last week against the Colts. Outside of a 63-yard touchdown run in the last two minutes of the game, Darren Sproles was held to 29 yards. Rivers, who had been picked off just 11 times all season, gave up an interception in the pivotal third quarter.
Next Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will travel to Pittsburgh to play for the Super Bowl. With both the Eagles and the Steelers in their conference championship games, the table is set for an all-Keystone State Super Bowl.