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SAN DIEGO 23, PITTSBURGH 13

Rivers Turns Pass-Happy

October 09, 2006|From the Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Philip Rivers performed a trick that might have amazed Houdini. He made "Martyball" disappear in a flurry of passes.

Rivers threw two touchdown passes, including one of 22 yards to tight end Antonio Gates midway through the third quarter that lifted the San Diego Chargers to a 23-13 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. Gates' catch capped a 91-yard drive during which Rivers, in his first year as a starter, threw eight passes in 10 plays, completing five.

San Diego (3-1) got Coach Marty Schottenheimer off the hot seat. Schottenheimer, whose conservative approach is known as "Martyball," was criticized after sitting on a 13-7 halftime lead the previous week at Baltimore. The Ravens rallied to win, 16-13.

The Steelers (1-3) were shut out in the second half, in which they had only 49 yards. They have lost three games in a row for the first time since late last season, when they recovered to earn a wild-card playoff spot and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger were two of the top three quarterbacks selected in the 2004 draft. And although Roethlisberger helped beat the Chargers, 24-22, last year when Drew Brees was San Diego's starter, his return to the city was a lot more painful.

Roethlisberger, who has not thrown a touchdown pass this season, directed three scoring drives in the first half but was pressured for most of the game. Two of his passes were intercepted, giving him seven, and he was sacked five times. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 220 yards.

Rivers started slow and finally got the upper hand. He was 24 for 37 for 242 yards.

San Diego's go-ahead drive was set up when Roethlisberger threw long to rookie receiver Santonio Holmes on a flea-flicker and the pass was intercepted by Drayton Florence, who returned it to the Pittsburgh 38. But Coach Bill Cowher challenged and, after a review, referee Bill Vinovich ruled the cornerback had been down by contact at the nine.

LaDainian Tomlinson carried for one yard on the first play and took a lateral for 12 yards on the sixth play, but otherwise the Chargers went to the air. Rivers had two big completions to Eric Parker, as well as passes to Tomlinson and Keenan McCardell.

Gates finished it off when he out-muscled cornerback Deshea Townsend, then dived into the end zone for a 17-13 lead.

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