Unforced Errors Were Way Too Easy To Recollect In Loss To The Chargers

If there was one thing that stuck out Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field it was the unforced errors. Ok not one, but several of them.

Sure, it is easy to cherry pick every game and find a handful of these types of mistakes, but Sunday against the Chargers it was way too easy to recollect them all.

We can start with safety Troy Polamalu jumping offsides on a third down 10 play from the Steelers 44 yard-line during the Chargers second possession. That set up a third down and five that was converted when linebacker James Harrison was flagged for encroachment on the very next snap. Two plays, two penalties and the Chargers drive results in a 51 yard field goal to give them a lead that they would never relinquish.

On first down following the ensuing kickoff left guard Willie Colon is flagged for a false start. They could have flagged Max Starks just as easy, but Colon gets the distinction. The offense overcomes it with a Ben Roethlisberger third down conversion pass to wide receiver Plaxico Burress, but the drive stalls on the next third down that included a low shotgun snap by center Maurkice Pouncey that threw off the timing of the whole play.

In a matter of a little over four minutes of game time the Steelers had four unforced errors.

A dropped pass by Mike Wallace highlighted the Steelers next offensive possession that went three and out and he would also get credit for the next one as well thanks to him getting flagged for holding on the first play of the next offensive possession. Surely he wouldn\’t get the hat trick, would he? Sure he did, thanks to a dropped deep pass to him just two plays later. Tough catch? Sure, but he has to adjust better to that ball. Want a fourth? His delayed return back to the huddle forced the Steelers to burn their first timeout of the game.

Not to be outdone by Wallace, Antonio Brown decides to get into the action by letting a deep ball bounce right off of his chest on the Steelers next possession. The delay by Brown getting back to the huddle forces the Steelers to use their second timeout of the first half.

One Brown deserves another as Curtis Brown falls victim to double move from Danario Alexander for an easy touchdown. Oh wait, that was just poor execution.

On the Chargers 17 play, 78 yard opening second half drive that consumed 9:32 worth of clock time there were no unforced errors, just bad coverage and tackling. Whew!

On the ensuing kickoff Cameron Heyward is called for holding and the offense is forced to start at their own 8 yard-line. While we won\’t call Roethlisberger hitting tight end David Paulson in the ass with a backwards screen pass an unforced error, even though Paulson was walked right back into the line of fire, we will call the failure of Brown to fall on the football, or kick it out of the end zone for a safety one. What was he going to do if he had picked the ball up anyways? Giving up 2 points is way better than giving up 7 points in my book. In a matter of just 13 seconds the Chargers scored 14 points.

Can you call not being prepared for a fake punt from a 4-8 team with a lame duck coach staffing an unforced error? No? Well, luckily that didn\’t result in points, but the ensuing 21 yard punt return by Brown that was negated by a holding call on Brandon Johnson certainly did hurt and we are calling that one.

Throw in a holding call penalty on Heath Miller and an illegal use of the hands call on Starks and that\’s your game, but the game was way over by that point anyways.

I have already posted about the decision by head coach Mike Tomlin to not go for two a couple of times during the attempted comeback, so we will not rehash that.

I missed a second bad snap by Pouncey in my recap, but I think you get the picture. Sure, all off these might not be considered unforced errors, just mistakes, but the collection that I have outlined for you in this post were far too many and they played a big part in the Steelers being embarrassed at home.

This team was not prepared well enough to play this game and it that falls squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff. These types of things have to stop or you can forget about this team making the playoffs.

  • Tim Culligan

    First half was like most of our games, neither offense was able to do much, but superior special teams by the Chargers and some mental errors as highlighted by you (drops and penalties) made it tough for the Steelers to flip the field position batte. Considering Chargers started every drive at about the 40 yards line, 13-3 is not bad at halftime, and while the offense was to blame and I was not worried.

    Then the 2nd half happened. This is 100% on the defense. Ok, maybe 98%. By no means when your down 10 points to start the 3rd quarter can you give up a 78 yard drive that eats up 10:00 of time. Strength of this D all years has been not giving up more than 1 or 2 first downs a drive and getting off the field on 3rd down. There, Chargers were 5/5 (FIVE FOR FIVE) on 3rd downs. So before the offense even has a chance to redeem themselves, they’re all of a sudden down 20-13.

    Penalty on the kick off, weird call on 1st down and weirder play result in 7 more for San Diego. Games over at this point, after just one snap by the offense in the 2nd half. Think about it, if the D gets off the field early, Steelers get the ball after a punt around the 25/30 at the worst, down 13-3. Here its 20-3 on their own end, and results in a touchdown for SD.

  • Tim Culligan

    Furthermore, and this did NOT impact the outcome of the game but needs to be said,
    Referees need to start using their instincts live on the field. FAR too often we see plays that should be dead play out because the refs would rather use replay to get it right then risk making the wrong call on the field. And I get that. But now, they treat replay use like a crutch. It’s garunteed on TDs and turnovers, so why bother trying to make a call on the field right? Well your not always going to get a camera angle on the play. Here, it was clear it was a forward pass, but to overturn the call we need conclusive evidence and there was no angle to show that.
    We see obvious forward passes called fumbles all the time now only to get overturned, cool, doesn’t matter really its just annoying and wastes time. But when the refs rely on replay to make a call more than their own instincts, every now and then, we’ll run into situations like this, when it can only be called correctly on the field.

  • dudek km

    agreed, it was a terrible call. Without the shot down the line of the scrimmage, that is almost impossible to overturn. It still looked like he released the ball at the 3 and hit paulson at the 4.

  • JT

    I’m pretty sure the internet would be broken had Mike Wallace been the one standing over the ball in the end zone watching the Chargers fall on it.

  • JT

    The opening drive of the 3rd was absolutely the back breaker. And that’s not on the offense for not producing. The D couldn’t produce a turnover against one of the most inept QBs this season.

  • Yeah they played bad, but they could still pull it off if it wasnt for that horrible call by the refs saying that the forward pass was a fumble, like wtf, get some glasses