The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the San Diego Chargers Sunday 34-24 and below are my first half notes from the game with the second half notes to follow soon.
The quick screen to Mike Wallace on the first play was an excellent call to get Ben Roethlisberger an easy first throw and Wallace involved in the game early. I called for such a thing in my pregame 7 keys article as well. The next two throws by Roethlisberger were very bad, however, and the offense goes four plays and out.
Both Jason Worilds and Ziggy Hood are easily driven out of the play for a big Chargers run to start their first possession. Hood almost intercepts a Philip Rivers pass as he gets in the passing lane on the ball intended for Ryan Mathews. Good pressure on 2nd and 3rd down results in the Chargers drive stalling.
Dwyer plants Eric Weddle on his back on 2nd down on the Steelers next possession and then releases to catch a pass from Roethlisberger, who is under heavy pressure. The offense cant convert the 3rd and 1 as the weak-side linebacker has plenty of room to blow up the play through the A-gap. Rough game already for the Steelers offensive line
Troy Polamalu spins off a block on the Chargers next possession to set up a 3rd and 8 but Cortez Allen allows an easy out right completion on the next play. The ensuing 3rd down is converted after back to back unforced penalties on Polamalu and James Harrison. The defense holds after that and the Chargers settle for a field goal.
Willie Colon and Max Starks both false start to start the next Steelers drive, but Colon gets the flag. Will Johnson cant make his block on the end around to Wallace after the penalty, but luckily Roethlisberger hits Plaxico Burress on 12 yard post pattern to move the chains on 3rd down. That pass was close to being pickled off by the linebacker. Dwyer makes a bad read a few plays later and a bad snap by Maurkice Pouncey combined with heavy pressure results in an incomplete pass to Heath Miller on third down.
On the Chargers 3rd and short on their next drive they run a simple pick out of a bunched two receiver right set that results in an easy out route completion as Curtis Brown is way late after playing off. On the next 3rd and 10 Brown is again victimized on an out to the left this time as he fails to cover the short area underneath in zone. Casey Hampton ends the drive with great penetration on 3rd and 2 to stuff the run.
Wallace drops a second down pass on the Steelers next possession and pressure allowed by both Colon on Starks on the next 3rd down results in a tipped pass that ends the drive.
A dropped pass on the Chargers next drive on 3rd down luckily ends it as the receiver was wide open.
Wallace kicks off the next drive with a take down and is flagged for holding which backs the offense up even further in their own end. Roethlisberger is forced to scramble on the next play thanks to pressure allowed by Colon and Kelvin Beachum. On second down Wallace fails to adjust to a deep ball from Roethlisberger and it glances off of his hands as a result. This could have been an easy long completion. The Steelers are forced to burn a timeout after as he is delayed getting back to the huddle. Pouncey is crossed up on a simple inside linebacker stunt up the middle on 3rd down which results in a hit on Roethlisberger and an incomplete pass. A nice return of the punt results in the Chargers starting well inside the Steelers half of the field.
Hood gets a gift sack thanks to his hustle in chasing down Rivers to the sideline on 1st down. A double pass on 2nd down results in the Chargers facing a 3rd and 10 which is foiled by Keenan Lewis on a nice pass breakup.
On the Steelers next possession Antonio Brown has a deep ball from Roethlisberger bounce right off his chest after Roethlisberger did a great job avoiding pressure allowed by Beachum and Starks. A corner blitz on 3rd down results in a sack, but Roethlisberger should have hit a crossing Brown on a wide open hot slant.
It is hard to believe that this was only a 3-0 game with 5:18 left to go in the half.
Allen takes a bad angle on running back Ronnie Brown on the ensuing 2nd down screen which sets up a 3rd and short and Brown is then burned for the deep touchdown after falling for a double move outside with the Steelers playing cover-1.
Chris Rainey gives the offense good field position finally on the ensuing kickoff. A Roethlisberger scramble followed by a screen to Dwyer sets the offense up 3rd and short at their own 46 yard-line, but a missed block by Beachum on 4th down results in the ball going over on downs. Really miserable short yardage work.
The Chargers convert another 3rd and 10 on their next drive as Allen is way in trail on a slant. Rivers has enough time in the pocket to allow his receiver to clear the official and the crossing Larry Foote, who is trailing the running back out of the backfield. Brown is then beat on another out pattern by Antonio Gates on first down and the sticks move again. The defense came on a blitz on the play, but Foote was a hair late getting home. The Chargers eventually settle for a field goal and are now up 13-0 with 50 seconds left in the half.
Roethlisberger hits Brown on an out on 1st down and the n avoids pressure on the next play to hit Emmanuel Sanders with a deep pass after he sits down in a soft area. This is by far the two best back to back plays the offense has made all half. A deep pass to Wallace falls incomplete and the Doug Legursky allows deep enough pressure on the next play that results in a batted down pass. On 3rd and 10 Roethlisberger avoids pressure again and hits Wallace in the middle of the field. Shaun Suisham then comes after a spike to put the Steelers on the board finally.
The Steelers are down only 10 points at halftime after being severely outplayed. The offensive line struggled mightily in pass protection in the half and the young cornerbacks were victimized way too often on 3rd downs.