Scouting Report: Steelers vs. Chargers


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Game plan

What the Steelers will do: Despite having a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver and possessing the ball for more than 36 minutes, the offense did not produce a touchdown in the Nov. 16 meeting against the Chargers. Part of the problem was an inefficient red-zone offense that was stopped on fourth down at the Chargers' 1 and settled for field goals on two other occasions inside the Chargers' 10. Since Ron Rivera took over as defensive coordinator, the Chargers went from allowing 25 points and 372 yards per game in the first nine games to 19 points and 328 yards in the final seven games.

What the Chargers will do: QB Philip Rivers, the league's passer-rating leader (105.5), had a season-low rating of 44.4 in the first meeting and had problems getting the ball to his top receivers, even though the Steelers' secondary was minus two of its top three cornerbacks. Despite having size mismatches, TE Antonio Gates (6-4, 260), WR Vincent Jackson (6-5, 241) and WR Malcolm Floyd (6-5, 225) each had only two catches for a combined 65 yards.

Keep an eye on ...

Chargers P Mike Scifres: Punters are not usually factors in a playoff game, at least, not like Scifres (pronounced SI-furs) was against the Colts. He had a net average of 51.7 yards on six punts, a postseason record for a player with more than five punts. More impressive, all his punts were downed inside the 20 -- also a playoff record -- including two inside the 10. The biggest was a 52-yarder that was downed at the Indianapolis 1, forcing the Colts to go three-and-out and resulting in the tying field goal that forced overtime.

Data

Game: San Diego Chargers (9-8) at Steelers (12-4).

When: 4:45 p.m.

Where: Heinz Field.

Online: Live blog of the game at Blog 'n' Gold

TV: KDKA.

Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970)

Intangibles

The Chargers have never won a regular-season game in Pittsburgh (0-13), including the 11-10 game Nov. 16, and are 1-3 in games in the Eastern time zone this season. But they are 2-0 in playoff games here -- winning a divisional playoff game in 1982 and the AFC championship in 1994 -- and have won their past five games.

Keys to victory

To win, the Chargers must ...

1. Get more lightning strikes. Their offense managed just 213 yards and didn't have a play longer than 26 yards in the first meeting.

2. Ward off the pass. Hines Ward had 11 catches for 124 yards in the first meeting, and the Steelers threw for 300 yards.

3. Get some action for Jackson. The Steelers held him to two catches for 25 yards and kept him from being a factor in the last meeting.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Get Jamal off the ball. Willie Parker had 115 yards in the last meeting because of packages that kept NT Jamal Williams off the field.

2. Keep Sproles in a hole. He is shorter and quicker than LaDainian Tomlinson and never seemed to tire against the Colts, especially in overtime.

3. Give Rivers the shivers. He had his worst outing of the season in the first meeting, completing just 15 passes and throwing two picks.





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