Monday, December 10, 2012

San Diego vs. Steelers: The good, the bad, & the ugly

We know what you are saying: It was all ugly, wasn't it?

It was ugly enough that we stopped watching the game after the fourth quarter interception of Ben Roethlisberger's pass by San Diego linebacker Bront Bird (there was yard work to do, and it seemed like a good release for all the frustration). But there is value in finding the good amongst the hideous, and that is what this week's effort is -- looking for a diamond (however small) in the rough.

The Good

We warned you it might be like this: Our introduction to the weekly matchups went like this:
One might look at the Chargers' horrible record (4-8) and be tempted to take this week's Steelers opponent lightly. But this Chargers team is so much better than their record, or statistics, indicate that it promises to be a long, tough battle at Heinz Field on Sunday. Indeed, the Chargers are 0-3 against the AFC North this season, but the losses were by a combined 11 points (with seven of that coming last week versus Cincinnati), and in their road games this season the Chargers are 2-4, but have only been outscored by a combined 8 points (114-122).

So, take us more seriously from now on, won't you?

First half defense: We admit that we are reaching here, but given the ineptitude of the Steelers' offense it is amazing that the score was only 13-3. Moreover, the Chargers ran an incredible 41 plays in the first half but only gained 143 yards (a 3.49 yards per play average). Top all of that off with the fact that the average starting position for the Chargers' eight first half possessions was their own 45-yard line, and you have to tip your cap to Pittsburgh's defense for keeping it close.

The Bad

Hey Mike Tomlin, enough gambling, ok?: We understand the second quarter decision to go for it on fourth-and one at the Steelers' 47-yard line. It should have been a gimme'; but between this and the fake field goal attempt earlier this season . . . well, let's just say that we'd like to see the conservative Mike Tomlin re-emerge. The inability to get that one yard, and San Diego's ability to drive for a field goal ended up being a bigger deal than may have been apparent at the time.

Mike Wallace: We are tired of watching games in which Mr. Wallace follows up a costly penalty with a dropped pass. There is no way for us to know if this season long funk is the result of his holdout or some other issue entirely, but at this moment all we can say to him is don't let the door hit ya' where the good Lord split ya'.

The Ugly

The Steelers' Offense: The final game statistics make everything look much more palatable, but during the first half -- when the game was still winnable -- the Steelers' offense had eight possessions, six of which that ended with punts, one that ended on downs, and one that ended with a field goal. Stated another way, on the field goal drive in the first half the Steelers' offense gained 59 yards. On the other seven possessions the offense gained a total of 64 yards. Or, stated still another way, the Steelers' ten longest plays from scrimmage combined for a net of 212 yards (an average of 21.2 yards per play). Their other 51 offensive plays combined for 128 net yards (an average of 2.5 per play).

Second half defense: Down by ten to begin the second half the Steelers defense was immediately sliced and diced for a 78-yard, 9:32 touchdown drive by San Diego. The Steelers' offense was horrible, but after putting up a good fight in the first half it seems the defense had nothing left to give.

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