Rapid Reaction: Steelers 38, Chargers 28

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

PITTSBURGH -- Facing the prospect of a 1-3 start, the defending champion Steelers played with an aggression early that wasn’t previously seen this season.

Pittsburgh jumped out to a 28-point lead but needed to hold on late to beat the San Diego Chargers 38-28. The win broke a two-game losing streak for the Steelers, who still struggled to hold a lead in the fourth quarter for a third straight week.

Tailback Rashard Mendenhall had a career night replacing injured Steeler Willie Parker (toe). The 2008 first-round pick ignited Pittsburgh’s previously struggling running game with 165 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. All were career highs.

Despite missing Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu and not playing their best football, the Steelers find themselves 2-2 through the first month of the season and with two winnable games upcoming against the Detroit Lions (1-3) and Cleveland Browns (0-4).

Pittsburgh trails the Baltimore Ravens (3-1) and Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) by one game in the AFC North. The Ravens and Bengals will play each other for sole possession of first place in the division next week.