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Rapid Reaction: Steelers 35, Chargers 24

1/11/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

PITTSBURGH -- The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC now goes through Heinz Field.

After a wild weekend that included three upsets of No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, the Pittsburgh Steelers avoided that dubious trend by beating the San Diego Chargers, 35-24. The second-seeded Steelers are now the highest remaining seed left in the postseason.

Pittsburgh starting tailback Willie Parker looked great following the bye week. He was the engine that drove the Steelers' offense with 146 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and a burst that often wasn't seen from him this season.

The playoff win also marked the first for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who came in two years ago with lofty expectations after replacing former longtime coach Bill Cowher. The team all year has been eyeing the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl and has advanced Sunday to become one of the league's final four teams.

The AFC North has been dominant throughout the playoffs, improving to 3-0. Pittsburgh's win sets up a huge third meeting against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers won the first two meetings this season between these bitter division rivals by a combined total of just seven points.