(Pittsburgh,PA) It honestly seemed like the Pittsburgh Steelers had learned from their mistakes in the Denver Broncos loss a week ago. After all, they have a proven track record to not play unsatisfactory football, twice right?
Wrong. The Steelers led the LA Chargers 23-7 at halftime, only to allow 26 unanswered points to the Chargers as they win 33-30 on a last-second FG by K Michael Badgley. Things went so well for the Chargers kicker in the remaining seconds of the game, that he was given 3 tries to win it. He missed the first one, and the second one was blocked only for both to be nullified by Steelers penalties, which allowed Badgley to nail a 29-yard chip-shot to win the game and stun a crowd of 61,069 and a nationally-televised NBC crowd as well.
“Disappointing game in a lot of ways, first and foremost.”Said Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin. “Got to win those, we didn’t. There are consequences, we’ll absorb it, we’ll be back. You got to tip your hat to the Chargers. They made the necessary plays. This time of year, when you win, you say very little. When you lose, you say less.”
In addition to blowing their 16-point lead, the Steelers also made some mistakes that they wish they could’ve taken back: A missed extra-point by K Chris Boswell, which is seriously becoming a trend, a pass by QB Ben Roethlisberger to a wide-open Justin Hunter that would’ve been a sure TD, and a Big Ben pass that was intercepted.
It would be easy to blame the defense for blowing this game, but it was an all-around effort. The offense stopped scoring until about 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter, the defense all but flatlined in the second half as Chargers QB Philip Rivers (299 yards, 2 TDs) dissected them like a lab experiment, completing 14 of his passes to WR Keenan Allen, who also had 153 yards and the special teams who gave up a 73-yard TD to Punt-Returner Desmond King.
A season that looked promising after a 1-2-1 start is now looking very concerning at 7-4-1 with the Baltimore Ravens looming over their shoulder at 7-5. After winning 6, the Steelers have now lost 2 in a row for the first time in 2 years.
There was also a case with the officiating as they blew a Chargers holding call, which Rivers took advantage of and fired a 46-yard TD pass to WR Travis Benjamin to put the Chargers on the board. The Heinz Field crowd was livid as was Tomlin.
“I’m going to keep my mouth shut. I am going to keep my mouth shut. I am going to do that because I send enough money to New York.” Said Tomlin when asked about the officiating.
The other concerns are the injuries: Hunter left the game after missing the wide-open pass, WR Ryan Switzer left the game after suffering concussion-like symptoms after getting leveled, and RB James Conner suffered what was labeled as a lower-leg contusion late in the 4th quarter. This coming after he was the 1st half star when he gave the Steelers a 13-0 lead on two 1-yard TDs to extend his TD total to 12.
Losing Conner would be costly, especially after Le’Veon Bell not reporting to the team.
The bright spots for the Steelers was WR Antonio Brown as he scored on a 28-yard TD pass just before the half and finished with 10 catches for 154 yards. He also went over 1,000 yards for the 7th straight season. He also joins WR JuJu Smith-Shuster by hitting the millennial mark on the season.
Roethlisberger passed for 281 and 2 TDs, but his overthrown pass to Hunter and his interception was costly
So now the Steelers need to seriously regroup and do some self-inspection. Not only did they lose the game, they lost their heart on the field, especially on defense and must find a way to get it back, or this loss could be a negative turning-point of their 2018 season. But there’s still 4 games left, and they now must take it one game at a time, starting next week in Oakland vs. the Raiders.
Notes: The 1979 and 2008 Steeler Super Bowl teams were honored at halftime.
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