COSTA MESA — Derwin James wasn’t around for the Chargers’ painful finishes in years past. But after the team’s come-from-behind 33-30 victory against the Steelers, the rookie safety spoke as if he had been there for the heartache.
“A couple of years ago, games like this, we weren’t able to get,” James said, “but now we are able to come on the road being down 16 and come back.”
Charger veterans are probably OK with James saying “we” when talking about the past. He already plays and sounds like a veteran.
With James’ leadership qualities, it’s easy to forget he was drafted No. 17 overall by the Chargers only eight months ago.
Chargers fans are hoping James can refer to many positive memories, like the ones from Sunday night, in a few years.
The Chargers aren’t accustomed to pulling out upset road victories in prime time. In fact, what the team accomplished at Heinz Field had never been done before.
The Steelers were 220-0-2 all-time at home when leading by 14 at halftime, and 174-0-1 when leading by 16 points.
The Chargers also handed the Steelers their first prime-time December loss at Heinz Field since the stadium opened in 2001. Pittsburgh was 8-0 in those type of games before Sunday night.
“With this group, you don’t have to throw tables, knock over water coolers and all that to get them going,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said about facing a 23-7 halftime deficit. “They knew. I can look at their eyes and I can tell these guys were ready to play, and they came out and finished the game.”
The Chargers’ signature victory gave quarterback Philip Rivers his seventh career comeback win when trailing by 16 points or more, tying Peyton Manning for most all time.
Rivers has been a part of many memories during his 15th-year career with the Chargers, some good, some bad. He wasn’t in the mood to reflect on the impressive road win.
Rivers was already focused on the next game. He’s well aware of what the team faces for the final stretch of the regular season, starting with the Bengals at the StubHub Center on Sunday.
“We know we have a heck of a test coming up next week in Cincy, another AFC North (team),” Rivers said Sunday. “Then go to Kansas City, and then I think I saw too much of that Baltimore game on TV. That defense, we know what’s coming with that one later in December.”
Joe Barksdale waived
Offensive tackle Joe Barksdale was released by the Chargers on Monday. Barksdale appeared in 48 games and made 42 starts during nearly four seasons with the Chargers.
“I just want to take a moment to say thank you to the Chargers organization and all of the true die hard Charger fans,” Barksdale tweeted. “Since 2015, this team has been my home and my teammates my family. I will truly miss everyone, but look forward to what the future has in store for me.”
Barksdale mysteriously appeared on the injury report last Friday, a day before the Chargers traveled to Pittsburgh. He was inactive for the game due to personal reasons, according to team officials.
Lynn didn’t specify the reason behind the sudden move during his news conference Monday. Earlier this year, Barksdale announced he was dealing with depression.
“It’s really not a good time to do something like that, but at this point and time, we thought it was best for Joe and it was best for the Chargers,” Lynn said.
Barksdale, 29, signed a four-year, $22 million extension in 2016. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Sam Tevi earlier this season.
The Chargers used the vacated spot to sign rookie wide receiver Dylan Cantrell to the active roster. The sixth-round pick out of Texas Tech spent the first 13 weeks on the team’s practice squad.
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