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Must win all around; Chargers @ Steelers

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <a href="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/139/27780_282wh.jpg"><img class="alignleft" title="Defensive Tackle Jamal Williams #76 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates a tackle against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1st half of their NFL game on October 8, 2006 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California." src="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/139/27780_282wh.jpg" alt="" width="164" height="239" /></a>The Chargers are coming off of an ugly win against the Chiefs. The Steelers are coming off of a maddening loss to the Colts. This game will be played at Heinz field where historically the Steelers have enjoyed success against the Chargers.

    The Steelers have won five of the last six games and lead the all-time series 19-6. The Steelers are 12-0 at home during the regular season against the Chargers, who won the 1994 AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Quarterback is 24-8 at home, but the Steelers have dropped consecutive games at Heinz Field, losing to the Giants and Colts.

    This game is a complete miss match on paper. Roethlisberger has been victimized by sack and interception this season, his numbers are suffering for it. All except the most important number, team wins. The Steelers sit at 6-3 and are in a knock down, drag out fight with the Baltimore Ravens for their division. One should think that the Chargers defense should be able to take advantage of that, but not so fast.

    The Chargers only sack in the last three and a half games came when Tyler Thigpen of the Chiefs jogged out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage. Pressuring the Quarterbacks has not been easy for this once feared defensive unit. This game could allow a bit of rest and recuperation for the black and blue quarterback of the Steelers.

    Last week the Chargers struggled defensively against a Chiefs team that is not as good as the Steelers team they face this week. Chargers are best defending the run. Not a problem for the Steelers however, because of late with a constant rotation of Running Backs due to injuries and lack of production, the Steelers do not run the ball as much. That is probably why Roethlisberger has been hit and sacked so many times.

    This will still be a fight, but the Chargers are going to have to be far more prepared, inspired and willing to play than they were against the Chiefs. They will not be allowed to stay in this game if they sleep walk though the first half. The offense will have to be ready to play, the defense absolutely must figure out a way to get pressure on Roethlisberger or the Chargers may be out of the game by the end of the first half.

    LaDainian Tomlinson has expressed his disappointed that the Chargers' running game is no longer able or willing to impose their will on opposing defenses. Tomlinson rushed 22 times for 78 yards and added four receptions for 39 yards but did not score a touchdown on Sunday against the Chiefs. In past seasons the Chargers have leaned heavily on Tomlinson to score and get the offense fired up. This season we may be seeing a change of style, moving away from Tomlinson and going to a spread the ball offense. However it is a must, that the Chargers feed the ball to Tomlinson in this game. Temperatures are going to be low, snow flurries are expected. If the Chargers are going to impose their will, it must be by running first, and using the run to set up the pass.

    The Chargers are also going to have to get all pro Tight End Antonio Gates involved. Gates had a season-high eight receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Chiefs. Gates has the ability to shed the blocks and get open in the gap between the front defenders and the secondary. The Chargers will have to mix up the passing game with a dose of quick, short, blitz defeating passes and the long pass.

    Chris Chambers came in last season and lead the Chargers in receiving yards. Before missing Weeks 6 and 7 with an ankle injury, Chambers had five touchdowns in his first five games. Chambers did not register a single catch against the Chiefs, the Chargers will need him involved against an excellent Steelers team if they want to win. The Chargers certainly have the weapons and experience to be able to compete against this Steelers team and win. But will the players remember that in time?

    Tales of the Tape:
    Pittsburgh ranks over all 26th offensively. They are 24th in passing and rushing offense. As stated before, injuries at the Running Back position, and the QB being used week in and week out as a tackling dummy are part of the problem. Still they have a very talented group of receivers who can be game changers.

    Roethlisberger has been injured, and Coach Mike Tomlin didn't name Roethlisberger (shoulder) during his injury report on Tuesday, saying Big Ben's shoulder soreness "is what it is." So the Chargers cant know what to expect from the Steelers gutsy passer. They better be ready for everything. Roethlisberger is 25th in passer rating on the year with 76.1, He is tied for 29th in interceptions with 11 on the season and is near last in scaks with 28 so far. He has been abused but has still been able to put his tem in position to win 67% of their games so far and to be in a position to vie for control of their division.

    Hines Ward may not be as explosive as he used to be, but unless you looking at fantasy numbers he has benefited from improves production from other receivers around him. No longer can you just double team Ward and stop the Steelers passing attack. Santonio Holmes is playing at a high level and gaining more confidence each week.

    If the Chargers do cover the Steelers wide outs, they will also have to contend with Heath Miller, the Steelers tight end who is at the top of his game right now, and has to be considered one of the top five players at his position. Face it they will also be going against a secondary unit that is dead last in the league against defending the pass.

    San Diego ranks near the bottom in defense. Overall they are 26th, last against the pass at 32, and 13th against the rush. This unit has left fans wondering how they could go from one of the best to one of the worst in one season. How it that shut down corners like Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer could falter so badly in one season. Line Backer play is way down. Granted Shawne Merriman was a true beast and is sorely missed, but players all over the San Diego defensive roster have gone from stars who should plan multiple pro bowls to scrubs who should think about their next career. Wilhelm, Weddle and a host of others are not playing up to expectations this season.

    They will have to play well beyond what they have so far in this season to have a chance of beating this Steelers team. I am not sure they can, and challenge them to prove me wrong.

    Pittsburgh defensively is what every Charger fan expected our unit to be! Number 1 overall, number 1 against the pass and 2nd against the run. They play with fire and attack the ball. They are an exciting unit to watch. When Pittsburgh makes a stop there are multiple Steelers around the ball. They will come out to play and hit hard every down.

    Line Backer James Harrison has been a sacking machine, compiling an impressive 8 sacks in six games. They will certainly pressure Philip Rivers all day and hurry his passes.

    San Diego ranks 10th in overall offense, 6th in passing offense and 25th in rushing offense. It is amazing that a rushing attack that features LaDainian Tomlinson would be ranked so low. Injuries, blocking and perhaps a lack of will have led to the Chargers faltering on the run. But this is a unit that gave up picks to get players like Jacob Hester, who has rarely seen the field and has the reincarnation of Lionel ‘Little Train' James in Darren Sproles. Many fans in San Diego believe the Chargers are gun shy when it comes to the run, not sticking with it. Last season we saw the Chargers use the running game to wear down the Titan's defense twice. They did it to other teams as well. This year they are apparently moving away from the run at the first sign of trouble, rather than continue to play smash mouth and impose their will on the opposing defense.

    Philip Rivers ranks second in passer rating with 106.3 on the season. He is 11th in sacks, with 12 and 24th in interceptions with 8. He will have to be on the mark, confident and controlled to not suffer more sacks and interceptions against this defensive unit.

    All in all, no matter how much the homer in me screams, I do not see the team that gave such a lack luster performance against the Chiefs last week being able to win this game.

    Pittsburgh 34, San Diego 17

    <strong>Chargers, prove me wrong!</strong>

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