goes to: QB Ben Roethlisberger
This was a performance in which no player was deserving of a game ball, but Roethlisberger at least made the final score appear respectable, even though two of his turnovers resulted in 14 points for the Chargers. Roethlisberger was playing for the first time after missing the previous three games with rib and shoulder injuries and managed to pass for 285 yards and three touchdowns while getting little protection from his offensive line. "I missed a lot of throws and threw it to them once," he said. "We all have to play better."
The Steelers averaged 4.1 yards rushing against the Chargers, their sixth-highest average of the season. But 31 of 69 rushing yards came on five scrambles by Roethlisberger. And, when they needed to gain just 1 yard for a first down in the second quarter, Jonathan Dwyer was stopped on third down and Isaac Redman on fourth down at their 47. The Chargers turned around a short field and kicked a 39-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead. "We lost situational football," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "We didn't convert enough third downs, particularly short-yardage ones."
A quick look at the top performances Sunday against the San Diego Chargers:
1. MOMENTUM BOLT: The Steelers appeared to gain some momentum by scoring on the final drive of the first half for the eighth time this season. But the Chargers quickly changed the tempo on the opening drive of the second half when they went 78 yards in 17 plays and scored on a 3-yard pass from Philip Rivers to Malcolm Floyd to make it 20-3. The drive consumed 9 minutes, 32 seconds. "We needed to come out and get our offense back on the field," DE Brett Keisel said. "That was bad."
2. LIGHTNING STRIKE: One play after Floyd's TD, Roethlisberger's lateral pass to Antonio Brown hit tight end David Paulson in the back and cornerback Quentin Jammer recovered the fumble in the end zone to give the Chargers a 27-3 lead. "It was tough to come back from that," NT Casey Hampton said.
3. THIRD'S THE WORD: The Chargers had converted just 10 of 43 third-down chances in the previous three games, but they were 11 of 22 against the Steelers, including 5 of 5 on a 17-play scoring drive to start the second half that gave them a 20-3 lead.
4. ANOTHER DROP: Mike Wallace's sixth drop of the season was a big one when he failed to catch Roethlisberger's deep pass at the Chargers 45 on a play that could have given the Steelers a 7-3 lead. "I have to catch that," Wallace said. "As a playmaker who makes plays, I have to come up with those."
5. SUISHAM SWEET: For the second half in a row, Shaun Suishman kicked a field goal with no time remaining, cutting the Chargers halftime lead to 13-3. It was the eighth game this season the Steelers scored on the final drive of the first half.
Ike Taylor missed his first game in 135 starts and his absence was felt immediately when nickel back Curtis Brown was beaten for a 39-yard pass to WR Danario Alexander that gave the Chargers a 10-0 lead. Cortez Allen, the regular nickel back, stayed inside in the slot in the team's nickel package and Brown played outside. The Chargers picked on Brown with such success that the Steelers replaced him with newly signed Josh Victorian in the third quarter. "They were attacking Curtis some, particularly on third downs," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "He wasn't being successful enough."
7 That was the number of drives that started inside the 12 for the Steelers, including five inside the 10. The field position was especially poor in the first half when the Steelers started three drives inside their 10 and another one from the 10. Their average starting field position on 13 drives was 15.6.
"It's mind-boggling to me right now. It's something I don't understand. We have to prepare each week to play tough against anybody. You can't look at someone's record and think I'm not going to play. That's why we lost [Sunday]. I don't think guys were ready to play. You got to prepare week in and week out, and when you step out on that field you got to be ready to go."
-- DE Brett Keisel
@ DALLAS COWBOYS, 4:25 P.M. SUNDAY: The Steelers (7-6) play the Dallas Cowboys (7-6) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This is just the fourth meeting since the Steelers lost to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX in the 1995 season. The Steelers have won the past two meetings.
First Published December 10, 2012 5:00 AM