SAN DIEGO-This was probably Mike Vick’s greatest moment as a starting quarterback in the NFL. And he did it his way. Steeler Nation embrace it. Running back Le’Veon Bell may have officially saved the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ season with his last-second, one-yard run to down the San Diego Chargers, 24-20, at Qualcomm Stadium.
But it was Vick who resuscitated the Steelers back to life with his play in the final 15 minutes of the game. For those who tuned in to watch the Monday Night Football contest between the Steelers and Chargers, the fourth quarter alone was worth the price of admission. The popcorn is popping from the roller-coaster excitement the two teams managed to cook up during the final quarter.
Vick would do most of the cooking in the game’s waning moments.
On paper or for those picking up the stat sheet, Vick’s numbers seem pretty pedestrian as he completed 13 of 26 passes for 203 yards with one touchdown. But his play down the stretch won the ballgame for Pittsburgh. Bell just came in and put the finishing touches on the Steelers’ win his acrobatic, spin into the endzone with zero ticks remaining on the clock.
“I’m elated right now and happy I was able to to get a win for this team,” Vick said afterwards. “We worked extremely hard throughout the weekend, everyone believed in one another and the team all believed in me. It was very gratifying to be able to reward them with a win, especially in this type of fashion. And we just have to keep going until the captain of this ship comes back.”
Last week, Vick went through heartbreak in his first start for the Steelers in Pittsburgh home defeat to the Baltimore Ravens. Turnabout is fair play. This time around, Vick is basking in the glow of coming through for his Pittsburgh teammates when it mattered. Steeler Nation wouldn’t have the road victory against the Chargers any other way.
They like their victories kind of rugged and tough. That’s their makeup. Pittsburgh’s style of play is to grind, grind and grind some more. The electricity of Vick did away with that grind-it-out style of play at the end of the ballgame. Down 17-10, Vick began do to do what Vick does better than any other quarterback in the NFL. He beat the Chargers with his arm.
Then he beat them with legs. Vick used his strong left arm to connect with Markus Wheaton on a 72-yard touchdown pass just when it looked like the Chargers were on their way to recording another home win in front of their fans. The magic of Mike Vick came alive with one flick of the wrist throw. The “Vick Factor” was just getting started.
Just like that, the game was knotted up at 17-17. The fireworks were just beginning. After the Chargers took a 20-17 lead with 2:56 remaining in the game, the deal looked done for the Steelers. It’s a good thing they have Vick. On the Steelers’ final drive of the night, Vick went clutch and sent Pittsburgh home winners, thanks to Bell’s TD run. But it was Vick going Vick with a 24-yard run that put Pittsburgh in position to win.
Vick had turned into the Vick of old as he led the Steelers to two fourth-quarter game-tying and clinching touchdowns. The way he has played in the last two games, and when you consider and look around the NFL and see the mediocrity at the quarterback position around the league, it leaves your head scratching that Vick couldn’t land a job anywhere. Well, he landed in the perfect spot. There was at least one person who wasn’t surprised by what Vick did, and that is Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. ”
“Because he is Mike,” Tomlin said. “He has a 15-year resume. This guy has seen about all of this game has to offer. He has unique abilities you that you can’t coach. That scramble play, that’s indicative of what he is capable of. He has a career of highlights like that delivering those types of plays at critical moments. That’s why for the time being he is our quarterback.”
For the first three quarters of play, the Steelers’ offense resembled something out of the old days with a student-body right twist to it as Bell ran left, right and up the middle to the tune of 111 yards on 21 carries. That last yard is going to be the one everyone is going to remember as it gave life to a Steelers team that looked dead in the water with another loss without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
That was before Vick went to work.
“He was awesome, and he hit the bomb to tie the game and put us ahead and win the game,” Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller said. “He was the leader of our team, was in total control and got us the win.”