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Steelers avoid potentially historic collapse

Nearly 29 years since the greatest regular-season comeback in NFL history, lightning almost struck again.

Leading by 28 points deep into the third quarter, the Steelers found themselves clinging to a seven-point lead late, as a defense missing safety Troy Polamalu once again collapsed down the stretch.

Failure would have matched the 1980 Saints, who blew a 28-point halftime lead in a 38-35 loss to the 49ers.

But with the game on the line late, after San Diego cut the score to 35-28, the Steelers again ripped through the San Diego defense like a broom stick against a pile of balsa wood, setting up a 46-yard field goal from Jeff Reed, who extended the lead to ten and put the game on ice.

Throughout the game, the 27th-ranked rush offense again had its way with the 26th-ranked rushing defense.  A year ago, Willie Parker shredded the Chargers for 115 yards in the regular season and 146 yards in the playoffs.  With Parker out due to a toe injury, Rashard Mendenhall racked up 165 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Mewelde Moore, who had only two carries in the running game, scored on a 19-yard reception and threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller.  (Meanwhile, despite some pregame speculation that Isaac Redman might get some play, he didn’t receive a single carry.)

But it wasn’t only the ground game that showed up for the Steelers.  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 26 of 33 passes for 333 yards and two scores.

Despite the struggles of the Pittsburgh defense in crunch time, the Steelers nearly outgained the Chargers by a margin of two to one:  497 yards to 250.

The loss drops the Chargers to 0-14 all time in Pittsburgh during the regular season.  And San Diego is now two games behind the Broncos in the AFC West.

The Steelers picked up ground on the Ravens, and they sit one game behind two teams atop the division.  With Baltimore and Cincinnati playing each other next week, a win by the Steelers at Detroit next week would likely vault them into a tie for second place.

Unless the Bengals and Ravens tie.

So with the Pittsburgh offense finally clicking, they now need to get Polamalu back from a knee injury.  Without him, the defense simply isn’t able to clamp down on an opposing offense in the second half.
 

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33 Responses to “Steelers avoid potentially historic collapse”
  1. SmackMyVickUp says: Oct 5, 2009 12:07 AM

    If Chargers showed up to play in the first half they could of had an easy win. Hats off to Norv Turner for not having his guys ready to go at game time once again.

  2. 56lightsout56 says: Oct 5, 2009 12:12 AM

    unforetunately, the albatross known as Norv Turner will remain as HC so its a pretty moot point right now.
    thing is AJ’s got such a man crush on him he isnt even on the hot seat unless the Spanos take the bull by the horns.

  3. BillsFan27 says: Oct 5, 2009 12:34 AM

    The only “hot-seat” Turner is feeling is AJ’s lap.

  4. dave says: Oct 5, 2009 12:40 AM

    why are people blaming norv?
    no offense is going to win in pitt when their defense is giving up 38 points
    if anyone’s to blame it’s rivera, Aj smith and those piece of shit D players

  5. hammster_receptical says: Oct 5, 2009 12:44 AM

    Earyl this week I heard a lot of talking heads say Mike T would never let his team lose three in a row. I think they should have stressed Norv will never let his team win.
    How can that turkey not challenge that 35 yard reception on the first drive?!? IT was so far from being a catch. God, does anyone care? Did he just say, “Oh well, it was close enough. Good effort.”??!?!?!

  6. Matt says: Oct 5, 2009 12:51 AM

    SmackMyVickUp says:
    October 5, 2009 12:07 AM
    If Chargers showed up to play in the first half they could of had an easy win.
    *******************************************
    Right, and if the Steelers hadn’t crumbled following a 28-0 lead, they could have easily decimated the Chargers. It’s a life of what-ifs.

  7. boltschick says: Oct 5, 2009 1:00 AM

    After the Chargers lost to the Steelers in the playoffs last January, AJ Smith said the Chargers got their butts kicked and didn’t match up.
    I wonder how he’ll describe this showing.
    And why didn’t he do anything to improve the lines?

  8. boltschick says: Oct 5, 2009 1:09 AM

    @56lightsout56
    A coaching change won’t solve our problems. You can’t coach a lion to hunt red meat. The players either have the killer instinct or they don’t.
    These Chargers seem soft to me.

  9. Filbertkiwi71 says: Oct 5, 2009 1:33 AM

    Norv doesn’t coach defense, Rivera does. It was plain to see that the defense was terrible, players out of position, no passion. That falls on Rivera, not Norv. Does Rivera know how to coach a 3-4 defense? How many more times are the Chargers going to allow points on the opponents opening drive?
    The Chargers appear to be playing a bend but don’t break 3-4 zone defense that breaks continuously. Sure, the Chargers miss J-Wall being out for the year at nose tackle, but there is no excuse for the secondary playing so far off of the receivers. It isn’t two hand touch, at the very least, they can tackle harder.
    IMO, Cromartie is a shadow of his former self. No need to bother to try and re-sign him. Merriman hasn’t shown much either, granted he is coming off of a couple of injuries. Still, it is his last year under contract, unless the Chargers tag him or re-sign him to a long term deal.

  10. ItalianArmyGuy says: Oct 5, 2009 2:01 AM

    Wow! Steelers have a crushing running back again – had him on the roster, and didn’t even know it. Sure looks smart to put a fullback in the backfield again after Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arian’s enforced 2-year hiatus from the fullback, because “it’s not part of his system”. I wonder if Tomlin finally lit into him and taught him who is the f###’ing boss this week? Maybe pulled a Tom Cable in a private meeting?

  11. AD says: Oct 5, 2009 3:29 AM

    I have a love/hate relationship with the steelers.
    my friend thinks they’re “thugs”
    I think they’re egotistical snot nosed kids thinking they have the right stuff.
    Next week the poor Lions are going to be beaten so badly, by the 4th Q, Big Ben can sit it out and Ward can take over for QB position (a la his TD pass tonight).
    Whoever drew up this cake walk of a schedule for the SUPERBOWL winners – is either equal to a Pete Rose or being paid to be equal to a Pete Rose.
    Give me a break.
    Browns, Lions, Chargers. Might as well be cake, pudding, and marshmallows they line up against.
    Hopefully RAW will give the offensive line and Big Ben some competition.

  12. Deb says: Oct 5, 2009 3:39 AM

    @ ItalianArmyGuy …
    re our earlier discussion about the o-line: Some days it’s really good to be wrong. You called it–I was underestimating the line. They looked terrific. Too bad we didn’t get to see Redman, but Mendenhall was a wonderful surprise. Couldn’t agree more w/your comment re Arians and the fullback. I’ve been hoping Tomlin would tighten the reins a bit on our OC.
    Unfortunately, the great offensive performance was overshadowed by another late-game defensive breakdown. By now pride, if nothing else, should have snapped them out of their post-championship stupor. And I’m still having trouble believing all the vets have suddenly started feeling their age at once–or that the absence of one player has decimated the #1 defense in the league. Still have more questions than answers about Steeler D ………

  13. vbar119 says: Oct 5, 2009 4:18 AM

    Hey draft guru Mel Kiper….errr I mean Czar Florio, is Rashard still a bust in your eyes?

  14. Roboto says: Oct 5, 2009 5:00 AM

    Florio, you should be writing headlines for a rag like the New York Post.
    The Steelers almost choked but clearly dominated this game. They still have probs on defense and special teams. Hopefully, that will be corrected and we get back Tony P.
    Roboto

  15. Steelers 3:16 says: Oct 5, 2009 6:49 AM

    @vbar119:
    Relax there, killer. Mendenhall had one good game. Lets get a decent season out of him first before we are ready to anoint him as the next Franco Harris.

  16. hines86 says: Oct 5, 2009 7:07 AM

    Only a terrible non call on Logan’s punt return (forward progress) made this game close. The fact is the Chargers season was over the minute Jamal Williams went on IR. Without him, they have no toughness on defense. Steelers will get Troy back soon to tighten up the defense and with 2 awful teams up next there is no reason to play him until the Vikings game in Week 7. Steelers are going to go on a major run the rest of the way.

  17. i'm president charlie! says: Oct 5, 2009 7:14 AM

    Not ready to crown Mendenhall yet…Willie Parker tore up San Diego last year as well.
    Hopefully upcoming games against Detroit and Cleveland will not only end in “W’s” but allow the defense to re-learn how to close a game properly.

  18. DerekLutz says: Oct 5, 2009 7:34 AM

    @AD
    The schedule is a rotation of divisions, the league doesn’t “set up” any team’s opponents year to year. The Steelers will play the NFC North again in 2013.
    They played the Chargers this year because San Diego won their division last season. They’ll also play the Dolphins and already played the Titans.

  19. realityonetwo says: Oct 5, 2009 8:26 AM

    ItalianArmyGuy says:
    October 5, 2009 2:01 AM
    Wow! Steelers have a crushing running back again – had him on the roster, and didn’t even know it. Sure looks smart to put a fullback in the backfield again after Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arian’s enforced 2-year hiatus from the fullback, because “it’s not part of his system”. I wonder if Tomlin finally lit into him and taught him who is the f###’ing boss this week? Maybe pulled a Tom Cable in a private meeting?

    Or maybe they had to play the guy because their other guy was hurt.

  20. Bob S. says: Oct 5, 2009 8:37 AM

    Re: analogy
    “ripped through the San Diego defense like a broom stick against a pile of balsa wood”

    Where did you ever see that?

  21. boltschick says: Oct 5, 2009 8:45 AM

    @Dave
    The Chargers didn’t win their division, they won a tie-breaker with Denver. The AFC West plays the AFC North this year.

  22. Empire Jones says: Oct 5, 2009 10:21 AM

    SixBurghDude-
    Had a friendly bet with you that if the Steelers won, I would come on here and give your team props.
    Here is your official “props” post. Good game. You guys came out firing on all cylinders.
    Our D really sucks right now. No matter what Rivers could do, it was “too little, too late”. We needed one good stop and our D couldn’t produce.
    When it was 28-0 I was laughing my ass off because I knew I promised you this post. When it was 35-28 I laughed again because I thought we might get lucky.
    But lucky is all it would have been. Your offense kicked our asses, and your D played well enough in the first half to shus us down and make the challenge a bit too daunting.
    If nothing else, the 4th Q was much more exciting than anyone would have predicted after the 28-point lead.
    Good luck the rest of the season and perhaps we might still meet up in the postseason.

  23. SteelTown_6 says: Oct 5, 2009 10:38 AM

    “Empire Jones says: October 5, 2009 10:21 AM ”
    class post.

  24. CliveRush says: Oct 5, 2009 10:38 AM

    In the first half the Pitt safety Clark leaves the field with an injury. That means both of the D’s starting safeties are off the field. San Diego takes advantage of this situation by running the ball right into the strength of the steelers D with a worn out running back, LT. Nice play calling. Norv is a nice man the players say, but he has proved to be a poor game coach. They got killed at the nose tackle positon by the O-line of the steelers. Ben is as tough as they come in football.

  25. drowningboy says: Oct 5, 2009 10:51 AM

    it’s official…he is now: Non-Merriman

  26. Resolution says: Oct 5, 2009 11:09 AM

    The only thing I hate more than the cowboys are the Chargers. Keep Norv! They will never win with him, so I hope they keep him for the next 20 years.

  27. Steelers4Life says: Oct 5, 2009 11:18 AM

    AD says: October 5, 2009 3:29 AM
    I have a love/hate relationship with the steelers.
    my friend thinks they’re “thugs”
    I think they’re egotistical snot nosed kids thinking they have the right stuff.
    Next week the poor Lions are going to be beaten so badly, by the 4th Q, Big Ben can sit it out and Ward can take over for QB position (a la his TD pass tonight).”
    —————————————————-
    That wasn’t even Ward who threw that TD pass…it was Mewelde Moore to Heath Miller lol.
    —————————————————-
    “Whoever drew up this cake walk of a schedule for the SUPERBOWL winners – is either equal to a Pete Rose or being paid to be equal to a Pete Rose.
    Give me a break.
    Browns, Lions, Chargers. Might as well be cake, pudding, and marshmallows they line up against.”
    ————————————————-
    The NFC is an every 4 years rotation for every team, so that was already in place before they won the SB. Then they play every team that won their division in the AFC; Titans, Dolphins, Chargers and the rest of the AFC West (sorry that the ones who won kind of suck now…it happens). It’s just how the NFL rotates schedules, it’s been this way for a long time now.

  28. steeler-hater says: Oct 5, 2009 11:34 AM

    If they had choked away such a big lead their season would have been finished for sure.
    Still not sold on these guys, though.
    (Surprising, huh?)
    :^P
    .

  29. steeler–hater says: Oct 5, 2009 11:58 AM

    OTOH, my opinions regarding any and all matters relating to the Steelers are totally meaningless.

  30. Deb says: Oct 5, 2009 2:22 PM

    hines86 says:
    Only a terrible non call on Logan’s punt return (forward progress) made this game close.
    ————————————————–
    @Hines86 …
    Love the Steelers with all my heart, but that hasn’t short-circuited my brain. Yes, that terrible non-call changed the trajectory of the game–but it accounted for only 7 of the 21 points San Diego scored in the fourth quarter.
    Yes, getting Polamalu back will be a blessed relief, but he said after the Cincy game that he couldn’t honestly claim he would have covered the plays any differently than the men who were on the field. Yes, thanks to the luck of the scheduling draw, we should have some breathing room in coming weeks though anything can happen on any give Sunday (@AD: How long have you been watching NFL football that you don’t know how schedules are determined?). But we still have to get by Baltimore twice and much as we hate them, we can’t underestimate them.
    I was thrilled last night by what I saw from Ben, the o-line, and Mendenhall. But that fourth-quarter defensive breakdown gave me a sleepless night. I hope you’re right about that major run. I really hope you’re right …

  31. comment_submission_error says: Oct 5, 2009 8:25 PM

    A broom stick against a pile of balsa wood? That metaphor makes me ache for the annoying screech of crickets.

  32. steeler-hater says: Oct 6, 2009 9:16 AM

    steeler–hater says:
    October 5, 2009 11:58 AM
    OTOH, my opinions regarding any and all matters relating to the Steelers are totally meaningless.
    ————————————–
    Shouldn’t your screen name be “steeler-hater hater”?
    What kind of forum is this if 2 people can have the same screen name?

  33. steeler-hater says: Oct 6, 2009 6:51 PM

    steeler-hater says:
    October 6, 2009 9:16 AM
    steeler–hater says:
    October 5, 2009 11:58 AM
    OTOH, my opinions regarding any and all matters relating to the Steelers are totally meaningless.
    ————————————–
    Shouldn’t your screen name be “steeler-hater hater”?
    What kind of forum is this if 2 people can have the same screen name?
    —————————————-
    Tru dat.

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