The Steelers had every reason to pack it in after falling behind by 17 points near the end of the third quarter Sunday night against the Chargers. Pittsburgh was without several key players on defense, and it had never rallied from 17 or more points in the fourth quarter during their previous 230 games being in that situation.
History was almost made. Sparked by Miles Killebrew's blocked punt, the Steelers rallied to score 27 of the game's 34 points to take a 37-34 lead with 3:24 left. But just when it appeared that Pittsburgh would leave Los Angeles with a win, Justin Herbert exploited a mistake made by the Steelers' secondary that resulted in the game-winning score. The Steelers fought but ultimately fell, 41-37, to drop to 5-4-1. And while they lost their first game in 49 days, the Steelers are still very much alive and well in the AFC playoff race.
Let's take a look at which players saw their stock go either up or down during Sunday's game.
Stock up: Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger, who missed practice all week after testing positive for COVID-19 last Saturday, had his first three-touchdown performance of the season. He threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter on Sunday night that included a game-tying score to Pat Freiermuth with 4:23 remaining. After a slow start to the season, Roethlisberger has nine touchdowns and no interceptions over his last five games.
Stock down: Offensive line
The unit regressed for a third consecutive week. Specifically, the interior of Pittsburgh's line continues to struggle to open up holes for Najee Harris, who finished the game with just 39 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Pittsburgh's 55 rushing yards on Sunday night was the third-lowest output of the season and the lowest total since the Steelers' Week 4 loss to the Packers.
Stock up: Diontae Johnson/Chase Claypool
Pittsburgh appears to have found its next great receiving duo. Johnson, who was motivated to atone for his fumble in overtime during last week's tie against Detroit, caught seven passes for 101 yards and a touchdown on Sunday night. His 10-yard touchdown pass cut Pittsburgh's deficit to four points near the end of his first half. His 32-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter set up Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to Eric Ebron that made it a one-score game.
Claypool, who missed last week's game with a toe injury, caught five passes for 93 yards against the Chargers. Down 27-10, Claypool's 28-yard grab on a third-down play jump-started the Steelers' late-game comeback.
Stock down: Inside linebackers
Like the offensive line, the stock continues to be down for the Steelers' inside linebackers. Led by Joe Schobert and Devin Bush, the group failed to make enough plays against Austin Ekeler and Herbert, who ran for a combined 140 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. It's been a trying season for Bush, who failed to get off of a block on Ekeler's first touchdown run. He also lost his one-on-one matchup against Ekeler on a 17-yard gain that occurred one play before Hebert's game-winning touchdown pass to Mike Williams.
Stock up: Cam Heyward
It was a frustrating night for the Steelers' Pro Bowl defensive lineman, who spent most of the night fighting through double teams. But Pittsburgh's defensive captain still found a way to make a big play late in the game. With the Steelers trailing by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Heyward batted a pass from Herbert that was picked off by Cam Sutton. The pick set up Roethlisberger's game-tying pass to Freiermuth.
Stock down: Defensive line
While Heyward continues to enjoy one of his best seasons, he cannot mask Pittsburgh's lack of depth on the defensive line. The unit, which has been without Stephon Tuitt all season and Tyson Alualu since the second week of the season, has struggled to stop the run in recent weeks. The line has played a big part in the defense surrendering 524 rushing yards over the past three games. Pittsburgh allowed 159 yards on 26 carries against the Chargers, a week after yielding 229 yards on the ground.
Stock up: Eric Ebron
A year after catching 56 passes and five touchdowns, Ebron entered Sunday night's game with just nine receptions in seven games this season. Ebron had his most productive game of the season against the Chargers, as he caught each of his three targets that included his first touchdown of the season. The Steelers would be wise to utilize Ebron more down the stretch, particularly in the red zone.
Stock down: Red zone offense
Speaking of the red zone, the Steelers continued to struggle in that department. Pittsburgh, which ranked 18th in the NFL in red zone efficiency coming into the game, had to settle for two field goals on two of their seven drives inside the Chargers' 20-yard-line. They came away with no points after getting to the Chargers' 5-yard-line on their second drive of the game. The Steelers nearly came up empty following Killebrew's blocked punt. Instead of giving the ball to Harris, Pittsburgh attempted two passes along with an unsuccessful running play for Claypool that lost two yards. After getting a reprieve on a pass interferences penalty on fourth-and-goal, the Steelers finally turned to Harris, who leapt over the line and into the end zone.
Stock up: AFC North
Other than the Steelers, the rest of the division came away with wins on Sunday. The Browns squeaked past the visiting Lions, 13-10. The Bengals ended a two-game losing skid by getting a win over the Raiders in Las Vegas. The Ravens, despite playing without Lamar Jackson, defeated the Bears in Chicago and stayed atop the division at 7-3. But while the Bengals -- Pittsburgh's next opponent -- moved ahead of the Steelers by a half-game in the AFC North division standings, the Steelers stayed ahead of the 6-5 Browns by virtue of their .550 winning percentage.
Stock down: Officiating
Sunday's officials missed a blatant unnecessary roughness penalty committed against Harris that led to Harris leaving the game with seven minutes remaining. Harris was drilled in the head after failing to come down with a pass from Roethlisberger. Harris was not mentioned as part of Mike Tomlin's post game injury rundown, so he should be fine for the Steelers' upcoming game against the Bengals.