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.