By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You can call the Pittsburgh Steelers many things. But you cannot call them boring. Not after an unbelievable finish for the second consecutive week.
Last week, it was Ben Roethlisberger throwing a pick to a defensive lineman in the end zone for the back-breaker. This time, it was something even less likely.
With the score tied at 30-30 and three seconds remaining in regulation, the Chargers lined up for a potential game-winning winning field goal in Pittsburgh. But undrafted rookie kicker Michael Badgley’s 39-yard attempt was no good, sailing wide left. The game was headed for overtime.
But … there was a flag on the play.
A whole host of Steelers jumped offside early, with Joe Haden being the one who officially took the penalty.
So, the Chargers had another chance to win the game, this time from five yards closer. Badgley shook off the miss and lined up his 34-yard attempt, looking again to win the game. But the Steelers blocked the kick.
But, no. A flag. Again.
This time it was Artie Burns jumping the line early, allowing him to get to the spot to block the kick.
And so, the Chargers got yet another chance to win the game, this time from the Pittsburgh 11-yard line. On this, the third attempt, Burns actually almost blocked the kick again, but his diving attempt sent him flying past the kicker. Badgley sent this one through the uprights, and the game was over.
Chargers 33, Steelers 30.
Oh, but there was also this: Burns was flagged for being offside on the play.
The Chargers, of course, declined that penalty, though it would have been interesting to see if the Steelers would have been offside for a preposterous fourth straight snap.
The kick capped off a major comeback for the Chargers, who trailed 23-7 deep into the third quarter. It was a game marred by a brutal missed false start by the officials, and it was a game that will forever be remembered for an unbelievable series of offside penalties to lose a game.
The Steelers dropped to 7-4-1 with the loss, putting them two games behind both New England and Houston in the race to earn a first-round playoff bye. As if last week’s loss in Denver wasn’t painful enough, the sting from Sunday night is certain to linger for some time in Pittsburgh.