By Danny Cox
For some reason on Sunday, the San Diego Chargers took the return of Ben Roethlisbeger much more seriously than the Pittsburgh Steelers did. Not only did the Chargers play with more energy on and a better game plan on offense, but their defense livened up too and finally did what they should have been doing all along. Looking at a virtually lost season after losing seven of the last eight games, the Chargers came out appearing to be the team that started this year off 3-1. At one point, they had actually built a 24-point lead on the Steelers. Twice! It has to be a wonder to so many how they played this well with so many players injured or done for the season, but couldn’t play this well with a fully healthy roster.
It may be far too late for Norv Turner to save his job, but he could have if more games had been coached like this one. For the first time in a long time, the Chargers had a balanced attack on offense and vicious mentality on defense. Some pressure was taken off of quarterback Philip Rivers as the team had 36 rushing attempts and didn’t call for a pass on every down. It kept the Steelers reeling and on their toes for most of the game. Turner called a good game and came out with a plan that was one of “attack,” and it was something the Chargers had been missing for weeks now. Sadly though, he should have thought of it sooner. Grade: B+
Somehow, this thrown together offensive line did not allow Rivers to become a tackling dummy. The San Diego quarterback was only sacked one time after being taken down 14 times in the last three games. This allowed Rivers time to throw for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Ryan Mathews got a lot of touches with 25, but the running game still was very non-existent. Mathews only racked up 65 yards for a low 2.6 yard average. Ronnie brown had 17 yards, but there just wasn’t enough there. Something more needs to be done. One other great bit of news for the Chargers‘ offense was that they committed no turnovers. Grade: B-
While it’s true that the Chargers gave up 340 total yards of offense to the Steelers, that still isn’t bad. San Diego sacked Roethlisberger twice and was also able to take two turnovers off of what was supposed to be an offense that was getting their leader back from injury. One of those turnovers was a fumble picked up by Quentin Jammer and returned for a Charger touchdown. Yes, more could have been done here, but the beaten up defense of the Chargers did their job and what it took to take down the once mighty Steelers. That 34-24 final score makes it look a lot closer than it ever really was. Grade: B-
Michael Spurlock only had three kickoff returns due to limited scoring by the Steelers, but he made good of them. His three returns netted him 35 yards for a low average of 11.7 yards per return. Nick Novak had an excellent showing in the kicking game as he hit all four of his extra points and both field goals attempted. A 39-yard kick in the second quarter was a good one, but the 51-yarder in the first quarter was just a beauty. Punter Mike Scifres got a lot of work even though San Diego’s offense was producing. Scifres had seven punts for a low 37.4 average, but he did pin the Steelers inside their own 20 on five occasions. Looked like he did his job perfectly. Grade: A-
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.