Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chargers v. Steelers:
The Good,the Bad, & the Ugly

Because it was a playoff game, and a divisional matchup to boot, the game between San Diego and Pittsburgh was analyzed ad nauseum. However there are a couple of points we would still like to make.

The Good
  1. He receives a great deal of criticism, but on Sunday Mitch Berger outkick his more heralded counterpart (i.e. Mike Scifres) by five yards per kick (i.e. Mr. Berger had a net punting average of 42.0 yards ~ 5.6 yards better than his regular season net average ~ while Mr. Scifres had a net average of 35.0 yards ~ 5.9 yards worse than his regular season average). Naturally Mr. Scifres' net average took a big hit thanks to the 67-yard return by Santonio Holmes, but we still like to give credit when it is earned.

  2. Teams are going out of their way to control James Harrison ~ he was double teamed all day long ~ but as a result LaMarr Woodley is getting opportunities to make plays; and on Sunday he took full advantage. His five tackles were second best on the team Sunday, and his three quarterback hits and two sacks led the Steelers' defense.
The Bad
  1. That the Steelers' defense made San Diego's offense one-dimensional is undeniable, but we were not particularly pleased with the stat line generated by Philip Rivers: 21/35, 308 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a 105.4 quarterback rating. Frankly, if we had been told in advance of the game that Mr. Rivers would have those kinds of numbers we would have been very concerned about the outcome. Yes, 20% of his total passing yardage came on the 62-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles with two minutes left in the game, however it still was a less than ideal performance by the Pittsburgh pass defense.
The Ugly
  1. The kickoff coverage unit has been a strength throughout the season ~ in fact they were the #1 unit in the NFL during the regular season ~ but on Sunday they nearly allowed the Chargers to climb back into the game on the strength of the 63-yard return by Mr. Sproles. Unfortunately, it seemed like old times.

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