PITTSBURGH -- On the national stage for the first time this season and with a chance to prove they are legitimate playoff contenders, the Los Angeles Chargers seized the moment in a come-from-behind, 33-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
After two defensive offsides penalties, rookie kicker Michael Badgley nailed a 29-yard field goal as time expired, his first game winner as a pro.
"This is really special," Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa said. "We've had some good wins, some close ones throughout the season, but this is -- I think this proves to everybody in here and to the rest of the world that we really have a shot to make a run here."
With the win, the Chargers improved to 9-3 on the year and showed -- along with the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans -- that they belong as one of the teams to reckon with in the AFC playoffs.
The Chargers are just a game behind the Chiefs (10-2) in the battle for the AFC West. So did the Chargers announce themselves as contenders on Sunday night?
"We ignore the noise," Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said. "I like being under the radar, to be honest with you. We can't control what people say about us. We know we are a good football team. We just play the people who are on our schedule."
The Bolts overcame long odds, trailing 23-7 at halftime. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the Steelers owned a 174-0-1 record at home with at least a 16-point lead at any point in a game.
Rivers has come back from a 16-point deficit seven times in his career, most by any active quarterback, tying Peyton Manning for the most such comebacks since 2001.
Five of Rivers' six comebacks of 16 points down have come on the road.
With Melvin Gordon out nursing a sprained right knee, the Chargers managed just 2 rushing yards in the first half, their fewest before halftime since Week 7 of the 2005 season (minus-5), per ESPN Stats & Information research.
With no semblance of a running game, the Chargers turned to Keenan Allen to move the football. The Cal product finished with a game-high 14 receptions for 148 receiving yards on 19 targets.
"It wasn't pretty and we know we have to do some things better and be more consistent with our effort, but these guys are going to play four quarters," Allen said. "They’re going to give you that."
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, it was Allen’s ninth career game with 10 receptions and 100 receiving yards, third-most by any player since 2013 behind only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones.
Down 16 points to start the second half, Rivers led the offense on a 13-play, 88-yard drive on the team's first possession in the second half, capped by a 10-yard touchdown to Allen after safety Sean Davis drilled fellow teammate cornerback Joe Haden, who had a potential pick knocked out of his hands.
Rivers hit Antonio Gates on an out route for the two-point conversion, and the Chargers trailed by just one possession, 23-15 with 1 minute, 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
After forcing Pittsburgh to punt, Desmond King returned the punt 73 yards for a score. Rivers found Allen on a crossing route for the 2-point conversion, tying the game at 23-23.
After forcing another Pittsburgh punt, the Chargers marched 79 yards on seven plays for the go-ahead score, capped by rookie Justin Jackson's first touchdown on an 18-yard dash up the middle with a little more than eight minutes left to play.
But the Chargers answered again, this time marching into field goal position. And after two defensive offsides penalties, Badgley hit a 29-yard field goal for the game winner.
"It's even more awesome," Badgley said about the winning kick. "Just how we came back and battled through adversity in the second half, and came out with a 'W' here in Pittsburgh in December."