Bell's 1-yard TD run at buzzer lifts Steelers over Chargers

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Le'Veon Bell Wins It with Literally Zero Seconds Left on the Clock

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Five seconds left, down by three points and the ball inside the 1.

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a gutsy play against the San Diego Chargers.

They got it for a stunning victory.

Le'Veon Bell scored on a wildcat run as time expired to give Mike Vick and the Steelers a 24-20 victory Monday night that had tens of thousands of Pittsburgh fans roaring and waving their Terrible Towels at Qualcomm Stadium.

Bell took the direct snap, ran left and was slowed in traffic before diving for the end zone and getting the ball across the line as Donald Butler dragged him down.

"It was time to go to the mattresses, if you will," coach Mike Tomlin said. "We had to do what was required to win. Le'Veon gave us an opportunity to win, and we were trying to do everything we could to move the football."

Bell said it was the most meaningful touchdown of his three-year career. "The game-winner on the last play of the game, that's what you dream about," he said.

"'I got to get it in," Bell said. "We still had a timeout left. I was thinking we still have a timeout left, so I'm thinking, 'OK, maybe if I get stopped, maybe run like 4 seconds off and get a timeout and we could kick a field goal. I wanted to end the game right there."

There was no way Tomlin was going to kick a field goal to force overtime.

"We have to run the football. We have Le'Veon Bell. We had an opportunity to win the game," Tomlin said. "We're on the road in a hostile environment, we've got to play to win and that's what we did."

It wasn't all that hostile, not with all the black-and-gold-clad fans in Qualcomm Stadium, which could be hosting its final year of the NFL because Chargers owner Dean Spanos wants to move to the Los Angeles area.

"First I'd like to thank Steeler Nation," Tomlin said. "How about the support that we had in the building tonight? We get that type of support just about all of the time we're on the road, but it doesn't get old. We appreciate it."

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers didn't.

"It was a tough environment tonight. It was like being on the road," he said.

"Odd is one word we could use," Rivers said. "We were in silent count and we had no chance. We were checking in and out of plays and it was about as tough as it gets. I'm usually hoarse after road games and I'm going to be today as well."

See photos from the game:

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Bell's 1-yard TD run at buzzer lifts Steelers over Chargers
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Guard Ramon Foster #73, tackle Kelvin Beachum #68 and tackle Marcus Gilbert #77 of the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to take the field before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks to pass againt the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Running back DeAngelo Williams #34 takes a handoff from running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers catches a touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Wide receiver Malcom Floyd #80 of the San Diego Chargers makes a reception while defended by defensive back Ross Cockrell #31 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Running back Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is pursued by outside linebacker Tourek Williams #58 of the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Kicker Josh Lambo #2 of the San Diego Chargers kicks a field goal against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Quarterback Mike Vick #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass against the San Diego Chargers defense at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Tight end Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a reception at the 1-yard line while defended by cornerback Brandon Flowers #24 of the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Wide receiver Keenan Allen #13 of the San Diego Chargers is pursued by free safety Mike Mitchell #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 12: Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers is tackled by cornerback Antwon Blake #41 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 12, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell scores a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
The Pittsburgh Steelers celebrate defeating the San Diego Chargers in an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in San Diego. The Steelers won, 24-20. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
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Vick, having an awful game until the fourth quarter, kept the drive alive with a 24-yard scramble up the middle on third-and-6 from the 41 and then a 16-yard pass to Heath Miller to 1 a play before Bell's big run. An unnecessary roughness call against San Diego's Jahleel Addae moved the ball a half-yard closer to the end zone and stopped the clock.

"It's not how you start. It's how you finish," Vick said.

San Diego called a timeout before Pittsburgh ran the gutsy play.

Bell ran 21 times for 111 yards.

San Diego rookie Josh Lambo kicked a go-ahead, 54-yard field goal with 2: 56 left.

Vick, making his second straight start in place of injured Ben Roethlisberger, couldn't get much going until he and Markus Wheaton hooked up on a 72-yard touchdown on a stop-and-go route to tie it at 17 with 7:42 left.

The Chargers then moved down the field for Lambo's kick. Eight days earlier, the rookie kicked a 34-yarder as time expired for a 30-27 win over Cleveland. Lambo also was short and left on a 60-yard attempt just before halftime against the Steelers.

Antonio Gates returned from a four-game PED suspension and caught a 12-yard scoring pass from Philip Rivers in the first quarter and then had an 11-yard grab with 8:02 left to give the Chargers a 17-10 lead. Gates has 101 career TDs, joining Tony Gonzalez (111) as the only tight ends to reach that milestone.

Rivers has thrown 74 touchdown passes to Gates, the most from a QB to a tight end in NFL history.

Gates was suspended without pay for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug in the offseason.

Antwon Blake intercepted Rivers' pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 10-7 lead late in the third quarter. Receiver Malcom Floyd broke off a crossing route that led to the pickoff.

It was Rivers' third pick-six of the season. He has turnovers in 10 of his last 11 games.

San Diego came right back and tied it on Lambo's 40-yard field goal.

Notes: Rivers was 35 of 48 for 365 yards. ... Floyd had his 300th career catch. ... Chargers OL Chris Watt was being evaluated with a head injury.

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