Week 14 Game Thread: San Diego Chargers

It would be nice if the Steelers won today. Same for the Redskins and Cowboys.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Last week, I went out in a limb and said we’d beat the Ravens if Troy was healthy. This week, I’ll go even further out on the branches: if we beat SD and WAS beats BAL, we’ll end up winning the division. This is semi-crazy, as we cannot win any of the tiebreakers and will have to have a better record. And this is the wackiest prediction I think I’ve made at SL or HSS. But I think it will happen.

    • Rob D

      I think it’s possible. I don’t believe Baltimore is as good as their record would suggest (sorry, Mr. Parcells).

      • Sarah

        Parcells can stick it. I’d go so far as to say BAL is one of the most over-rated teams in the NFL.

        Anyway I dunno – I am very nervous about this SD game. There’ve been too many losses to teams we should have beaten this season. I just don’t want to get complacent!….

  • Sarah

    C’mon get off the field….

  • calig23

    This team is so ridiculously undisciplined.

  • calig23

    Good job by Plax to go up and grab that pass.

    • Sarah

      Great catch. Stupid pass tho….yikes, Ben.

  • calig23

    They might want to cover this Spurlock guy…

  • Sarah

    Good Lord they keep converting 3rd downs. GET OFF THE FIELD.

  • calig23

    The offense looks horrific right now.

    • Sarah

      As does the punting. They haven’t even shown up yet.
      Hope they do.

  • calig23

    And another penalty.

  • Sarah

    OMG catch it Wallace!!!!

  • calig23

    Hey another Wallace drop.

  • Sarah

    Is Ben ready to play?

  • calig23

    How are they not getting any pressure with the Chargers’ O-line so banged up?

  • calig23

    Brown must be getting lessons from Wallace. That pass should have been caught.

  • Sarah

    Totally ridiculous non-call. Unbelievable.

  • calig23

    I think this is the worst the O-line has played all season.

  • calig23

    It would be nice if the Steelers could at least flip the field position. Against a competent offense, they’d be down about 24-0 by now.

  • calig23

    So Curtis Brown gets penalized and totally burned on that TD pass.

  • Sarah

    Once again, difficult to watch.

    How do they not show up for this game??

  • Sarah

    Here in Pgh, the local commentary guys are just ripping them.
    “Sleep walking” “No life” “Ate a cheeseball last night and are totally stopped up.” (Ouch!)

  • calig23

    Sigh…

  • Sarah

    I dunno guys. Why do they never seem ready to play against lesser opponents??

    I tend to put that on the coaching staff but I am open to other theories. It’s definitely a pattern….

  • calig23

    Well, at least they got something…

  • calig23

    Inexcusable. Letting them convert that 3rd and 13 like that is ridiculous.

  • calig23

    This game is over.

  • calig23

    There’s the obligatory special teams penalty

  • calig23

    I think this game might be worse than the Browns game.

  • calig23

    Can somebody explain to me why Antonio Brown backed away from the ball in the endzone?

  • calig23

    Finally, Wallace holds onto one. Great pass by Ben for the TD

  • calig23

    That seems about right. Defense forces a stop, and then they get burned by a fake punt.

  • calig23

    How do you get outcoached by Norv Turner?

    • djanyreason

      Norv called a fake punt inside the 30 while up 17. That’s not getting outcoached, that’s a blind squirrel finding a nut. It’s hard to plan against stupidity.

      • David

        Yeah, but it seems like their game plan was to make it 3rd & manageable, where they kept extending drives. That is coaching, picking on Allen and Brown for 3-4 yds to convert 3rd downs.

        • djanyreason

          Many of those were third and long. Plus, it’s everybody’s game plan to make it 3rd-and-manageable, then convert.

  • calig23

    Just can’t catch a break. Gates hauls in a deflected pass to convert yet another 3rd down.

  • Sarah

    This is as bad on BOTH sides of the ball….in a long time….

  • calig23

    Of course. Nice return by Brown, wiped out by a penalty. Again I ask, why did they fire the Special Teams coach right before the season?

  • calig23

    That seems about right.

  • David

    Well, I’ve turned the TV off. First time I’ve stopped watching during the game in 10+ years.

  • calig23

    You know, it might be a good idea to take Ben out of this game. They aren’t going to win, and risking another injury is just stupid.

  • Sarah

    Totally agree Calig.

    And I’m with you David. Completely embarrassing.

  • calig23

    Where was this Mike Wallace the last few weeks? Another good catch for a TD.

    And why aren’t they going for 2? They should have gone for 2 on both of the past two TDs.

    • Sarah

      Cos Tomlin’s an idiot??

  • calig23

    If that was an onside kick attempt, it was about the worst one ever.

  • calig23

    Okay…. So if you aren’t going to go for it on 4th down, why is Ben still in the game?

  • calig23

    I hate rooting for the Cowboys, but it would be awfully nice if they could pull out a win against the Bengals. They trail 19-17 on the edge of field goal range with a minute and a half left.

  • Cols714

    Looks like the Cowboys did their job. Redskins are doing theirs. Too bad we couldn’t do ours.

    Still, we win out we are in the playoffs. Tomlin and Haley have to get the offense going.

  • calig23

    Cowboys won, so that helps mitigate this loss somewhat.

  • David

    No 2 pt conversions?
    DAL, WAS did their jobs.
    Sucks.

  • djanyreason

    Silver lining – we currently hold tiebreaker edge over the Bengals and Jets. If we beat Cincy when we pay them, we’re probably in the playoffs regardless of our other remaining games.

  • Sarah

    Is this worse than the CLE loss???

    • David

      No, but what concerns me is that Rivers carved our D like a X-mas turkey.

    • djanyreason

      Yes. But not the worst loss of 2012. Loss to SD > Tebow

    • David

      Well, I’ve changed my mind.

      -they had a patchwork O-line
      -they hadn’t scored an Offensive TD in 7 games
      -they were 0-14 at Three Rivers/Heinz
      -we had just about everyone back

      So yes, worse than the CLE loss.

  • Cols714

    I hate these type of games. All I can say is move on. This team can both beat anyone in the NFL and lose to anyone in the NFL. If they make they playoffs and Ben is healthy I still like our chances.

  • David

    How big was Brown’s non-recovery?

    • djanyreason

      Given safety and field position, about 4 points

      • David

        Exactly, which would have made it 22-3. Don’t know if that would’ve made a difference the way they were driving the ball, but very, very irresponsible by Brown.

        • djanyreason

          We lost by 10, with two garbage-time TDs. So I’d say 4 points or so doesn’t actually loom very large.

  • ErikH

    My goodness… I think we can count the playoffs out of the picture if this team can’t put together a better effort. That was a miserable game. I’m really glad I decided not to drive 9 hours from KY to go. I was pretty torn about that decision but I think I made the right call.

    • djanyreason

      Yeah, and the Falcons can count the playoffs put off the picture of the can’t mystery a better effort than they had today against Carolina.

      If we beat Cincy, we’re a virtual lock to make the playoffs. Chill out.

      • Rob D

        Really need a translation service here…wink

  • Sarah

    Are we ready to say it’s a season-threatening pattern – this team’s inability to put in even a normally strong effort vs a team obviously inferior? They’ve cratered four times now vs the dregs of the league.

    Good competitors ALWAYS get up for strong opponents. That’s a given.

    But even good competitors are human, and may relax vs weak opponents. It;s a rare competitor who gets UP for Cleveland the same way they get up for BAL.

    But the best coaches somehow find ways to motivate, even when motivating is tough to do. Even v CLE.

    I put this on the coaches.

    • David

      Partly. We have two additional patterns: 1) not creating/getting turnovers and 2) getting injured like we’re old men playing a NFL legends game.

    • djanyreason

      We pretty well stomped on the Jets and the Redskins, so, no, I’m not ready to say its a season-threatening pattern. I’m not even ready to say its a pattern. I’m ready to say its a random distribution.

      • Sarah

        Jets were playing well at the time and Skins always dangerous as they are showing now. OAK and esp TEN, and SD too, ALL were cratering when we played them.

        Don’t believe it is random at all.

        • djanyreason

          We played the Jets in week 2 – I’m not exactly sure how one could be playing well “at the time” when you have 2 games, and one of them was getting stomped. And the “dangerous” Redskins had to go to OT to beat a team that lost to Charlie Batch.

          If you do not believe it’s at all random, then I’m afraid I believe that you’re mistaking noise for signal.

          • EasyLikeSundayMorning

            With only 16 games in a season, it is very hard to separate signal from noise. So more things are a matter of interpretation and judgment than close-to-inarguable. That’s one of the reasons being a football fan is different than being a baseball fan these days: more issues are legitimately debatable.

            To my eye, we do seem to tend to play to the level of our opponents. It isn’t like I base this assessment on a mountain of data. But it also doesn’t mean it is wrong.

          • djanyreason

            Agree, and not saying its wrong – saying I don’t believe its right.

            16 games is absolutely a tiny sample size. So, absent overwhelming evidence, I assume what I’m seeing is noise, because its probably noise. Bayes and all that.

          • Sarah

            Dunno DJ there is a fair amount of said noise -

            Steelers’ lack of consistency is disturbing -
            AFC North Blog – ESPN
            espn.go.com/blog/…/steelers-lack-of-consistency-is-disturbing

            AFC North Blog – ESPN
            espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth

            http://guardianlv.com/2012/12/pittsburgh-steelers-coach-tomlin-must-demand-more-from-lebeau-and-haley/

            Steelers play down to the level
            of their opponents …
            http://www.teamleaks.com/…steelers/why-do-the-steelers-play-down-to-the...

            Steelers Still in it, but are They
            Good Enough?
            plus.sites.post-gazette.com › Pro
            Sports › Steelers

            Why do the Steelers play down to the level of their opponents …
            steelerstoday.com/?p=10465

            Being unable to beat bad teams, definite
            characteristic of bad team
            communityvoices.sites.post-gazette.com › Sports
            › Bob
            Smizik’s Blog

            http://steelblitz.com/steelers-lose-roethlisberger-and-clark-almost-lose-game/2261/2012/11/12

  • Canadian Steeler

    Had to miss the second half for work. Was hoping to just download later, but a friend spoiled the score. What happened? In the first half the offensive line play was so horrible, and Haley didn’t seem to adjust very quickly in that he’d go empty on the third down when they double blitzed the A-gap. Was it more of the same?

    The defense still looked good in the first half, but 27 points? Was it like the first half with the offense giving them no time to rest and a very short field?

    No site I use has uploaded the game yet, but I need to watch it before deciding my state of mind. I remember being pretty furious at Wallace and Haley when leaving at halftime, but saw that Wallace had 2 TD’s in the second half. Luckily the Bengals lost, but the division must be lost now. Looks like we’ll finish sixth.

    • David

      Well, where shall i start?

      SD got the opening KO, then went on what seemed like a 75-play, 80 yd drive for a TD. We had them stopped, we thought, with a 3rd & 13 at our 30, but they ran a draw, got the 1st, and eventually scored. 20-3

      Then, we got the kickoff, committed a penalty, and had the ball at the 6 or so. Ben threw a quick screen to Brown that ricocheted off the rear of Beachum. It went into the endzone and instead of falling on it, Brown let SD fall on it. Replay confirmed a backwards pass. 27-3. Ballgame.

      Rest of the game? Our D couldn’t get off the field, Ben threw a pick in our redzone, and they ran a fake punt. Seriously. I guess their coach is gonna be fired with a call like that.

      That’s when I couldn’t watch anymore and turned off the TV and started to think about the draft.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Going into this week, the three worst teams in FO’s Variance scores were SF, NYG and PIT. In other words, these have been the three most inconsistent teams from week to week. Each team could lose to anyone (see: SF’s two Rams games, NYG vs. PHI). But each also has wins against quality opponents and could also get hot and go deep into the playoffs. Hopefully, beginning next week, our players will start to mimic the SF and NYG results from today. Crapburgers like today’s game are embarrassing.

  • Cols714

    The headline below this post sums it all up “The NFL is Crazy”. I really do think it’s pretty much that simple.

    The NFL is not a morality tale. It doesn’t work out that the Steelers wanted it more than the Ravens last week, just like it doesn’t work out that SD wanted it more than the Steelers this week.

    Sometimes weird shit happens in the NFL.

    This team can still beat anyone they play. They can also lose to anyone they play. The playoffs are still easily attainable. If they get in they have a chance to go all the way.

  • djanyreason

    I think JJ in FO hit the nail on the head:

    “But the lesson I’ll probably take from this game more than anything else is how the Steelers’ front seven just can’t rush the passer anymore. Facing a pair of street free agents playing offensive tackle for the Chargers, Pittsburgh’s pass rush generated four quarterback hurries and one sack in 42 pass plays.”

    • Canadian Steeler

      I think that might be overreacting a bit. Even if Eli saw that it hadn’t changed, it sure did a lot to stump him on that day. Before this game, the defense – especially against the pass – looked elite again. Now that’s obviously going to look worse without your number one corner out.

      As for the pass rush, I wrote last week that I’d like a safety in the draft, but I might have been overestimating Worilds progression. I remember reading somewhere that LeBeau was rarely rushing more than 4 or 5 and leaving people in coverage after being gashed against the Raiders and Titans. So where previously you’d have seen us rush 6 leaving a Woodley or Harrison against a TE or RB, now there seems to be enough lineman to pick up whoever we send. So for a sack to occur, you’re looking at either scheming to overload a side/gap (which can sometimes be dealt with line calls and shifts) and players beating the man in front of them. Clearly the latter isn’t happening with enough regularity. Woodley coming back should help this, but he hadn’t been lighting the world on fire before his injury. Potentially better defensive line play could help as well, because if Aaron Smith was occupying a guard and a tackle, Woodley would get a match-up against a TE or RB, which he usually beats. Keisel played well upto this week, and I think can command a double team with at least some regularity. You have to question whether Hood’s that type of player though. If he’s not, on passing downs, we need to try Hampton/McClendon/Heyward to see if any of them can force a double team from the offensive line.

      • djanyreason

        I kind of agree with you on it being overreacting, but I also kind of don’t. Like I said, the scheme is 8 years old with barely any change.

        If you look at FO’s DVOA for defense, the Steelers ranged from -7.2% to -18.9% from ’04-’07, averaging -13% (lower is better), and then had the world-beater season in ’08 at -29%. But since then it’s been -4.6% in 2009, -20.7% in 2010, -9.4% in 2011, and -4% in 2012. In that line 2010 looks a bit like a dead cat bounce.

        Looking strictly at pass rush stats – and, let’s be honest, the key to LeBeau’s defense is supposed to be the pass rush – from 2004-2010 the Steelers’ adjusted sack rates usually ranged from 8.2%-8.7% (2006 and 2007 were below this level, at 6.9% and 7.2% respectively). That includes the mostly Aaron-Smith-less 2007, 2009, and 2010 seasons. But in 2011 and 2012, the Steelers ASR have been 6.8% and 6.7% (and the latter figure does not include yesterday’s game). These are the lowest rates under LeBeau’s tenure as Steelers defensive coordinator.

        I think clearly something is not working right now. The Steelers defense still rates as above average, but considering our investment in our defensive personnel – both in salary cap and in draft picks – above average doesn’t cut it. I don’t know if the problem is the scheme is stale, but given its longevity, and the recent slide in productivity (especially in the pass rush, which is where it is supposed to excel), I think its something the Steelers and Dick LeBeau should be asking themselves.

        • Canadian Steeler

          I don’t deny that we need to create more pressure. I think we just disagree as to why we don’t create the pressure we did a few years ago. I think, regardless of scheme, you’re going to need pass rushers who can beat offensive linemen. I’d have to look more into it, but it does feel like we don’t do the inside linebacker cross as much as we used to. That could be because LeBeau, with the current personnel, doesn’t feel comfortable taking that many players out of the middle.

          What do you mean by a scheme change? A change in defensive front, shooting gaps instead of playing 2 gap, or just generally more pressure through sending more bodies? I think we know by now that LeBeau hates nothing more than giving up the big play, so he’s tried to change things so that pass defense relies more on the coverage than quick pressure. I’d argue that’s the key to LeBeau’s defense – not giving up the big play. Now that was usually through quick pressure but even without the pressure this season we’ve still been very effective accomplishing that goal, ranking the lowest in both pass and run plays under 20 yards (before this week). http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/12/2012-nfl-week-12-tox-stats/

          Again, I completely agree that the pass rush does need to improve. One example would be the tackle-end stunt that Aldon and Justin Smith do so well in San Francisco, and (I believe) LeBeau has used in the past. There’s probably plenty LeBeau could do to improve the pass rush by sending more players, but I believe he’s made a decision towards coverage because – for one reason or another – the blitz wasn’t getting there in time and we were allowing more passes. In my opinion, that’s due to personnel. Either the coverage couldn’t hold up for long enough, or the players he was sending couldn’t get there in time, but that’s still a personnel issue. Given San Diego’s weakness on the offensive line, there’s no excuse for not creating more pressure. That needed to be done with blitzing, but also with personnel as even 4 rushers should be able to get pressure against a mostly reserve offensive line.

          • djanyreason

            What I mean by a scheme change is that we’ve been running the same defense for 8 years. What was state-of-the-art 8 years ago (and it wasn’t exactly cutting edge even then – it was cutting edge 20 years ago) is now old in the NFL.

            How much has changed in the offensive game since 2004? More passing, WAY more shotgun, the introduction of the pistol, athletic TEs used in all sorts of new roles – both offenses in SB XL had highly regarded FBs in key roles, the position is now virtually non-existent. And I can come up with that list despite being far from an expert on NFL offensive schemes (although that never stopped me from complaining about BA). Have offenses evolved so much, but defenses evolved so little that we can run the same scheme we’ve been running for the last 8 years without suffering for it?

            Maybe we can. Maybe the answer is that the Dick LeBeau zone-blitz scheme that the Steelers have been running forever-and-a-day is so fundamentally sound that it doesn’t need refresh and refinement. But many other teams run 3-4 defenses with different schemes, and do so successfully. With more success than the Steelers have had in the last 4 years.

            I don’t know the answer to the question, but I still think its one that the Steelers ought to ask.

          • Eric

            I see what your saying. Schemes evolve. At the same time, does the 4-3 need to be updated? It’s even older than the 3-4. Chicago seems to be doing OK with it.

            I don’t think it is worth getting too concerned about the scheme when the team has so many known personnel issues on the defense. Harrison is declining with injuries/age, as is Polamalu. In previous seasons they were the two most dominant players on the defense. Hampton is also wearing down and Aaron Smith is retired. Combined with Hood being at best adequate and you have the LBers fighting through more blocks than usual. Not to mention that Woodley is hurt and has been disturbingly quiet even when healthy. Foote is a replacement level player now. So compared to years past we have a weaker front seven in multiple spots.

            Knowing all of that it seems like changing the scheme would be treating the symptom and not the root of the problem. The defense is getting old at key positions all at once. The replacement players have not shown themselves to be as good as the older starters in their primes. Maybe a different scheme would suit the current roster better and if so, great. It just doesn’t seem like that is likely to work considering these players were drafted with the 3-4 in mind.

            I expect it will be a rough transition the next 2-3 years.

  • Cols714

    Wow
    Cam Cameron fired in Baltimore.

    • Eric

      I usually think fans overreact to coordinators, etc but.. I actually agree with the move. Strange timing though.

      • Cols714

        I agree completely. Fans overreact to offensive coordinators. I’m not sure there is a fanbase that likes it’s team’s OC.

        The Cameron firing is nuts. To do this while heading into the playoffs strikes me as completely crazy. And to give the job to Caldwell is even crazier.

        But yes, Cameron needed to go sometime, I just think it’s wiser to make the move after you lose to the steelers in the playoffs.

    • djanyreason

      Remember how afraid many of us were this offseason that we’d end up hiring Jim Caldwell as our new OC?

      Good times.

  • Cols714

    Sean Kugler is leaving after this season. That’s good. We could use a different OL coach. Whatever this one was doing didn’t seem to be working.

  • Cols714

    I think we all underestimate the amount of luck involved in the NFL. I see no other way to describe how each and every season there are so many losses that have seemingly no explanation.

    The only constant is that if you have a great QB, you will almost always be contending.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    The garment rending over the defensive scheme doesn’t make much sense to me. In the 7 games before this week, the D had given up something like 13 points and 180 yards passing per game. In the pass-wacky modern NFL, that’s pretty impressive. In fact, we’re #1 in pass yards allowed without giving up many rushing yards. All this with 3 Pro Bowlers missing significant time due to injury. This week, all 3 phases laid a turd on the field (the O and ST constantly gave SD a short field in the first half). So let’s not do that again.