The Steelers suffered their second consecutive heartbreak loss of the season – this time in an all-important game against the now 9-3 San Diego Chargers. After a dominating performance in the first half y Pittsburgh, Philip Rivers and company lead a comeback win against the Steelers that featured 23 straight points on route to a 33-30 win in the final seconds of regulation. Here are my winners and losers from the Steelers loss to the Chargers.
Brown was the best player in a Steelers uniform on Sunday night. He hauled in a 46-yard contested grab early in the game, and finished with a more than respectable stat line of 10 receptions on 13 targets for 154 yards and a touchdown. Brown won early and often in this game.
Terrell Edmunds makes my winners list for the first time this season. The 21-year old safety had his best outing of the year – showing up early by stuffing the run and getting after the quarterback. Though the Steelers defense as a unit had a very rough second half, Edmunds was one of their most solid defenders in this contest. He finished with 8 tackles, a sack, a QB hit, a tackle for a loss, and a pass defense.
Fort made his first start on the Steelers defense this year, and he was hard to miss on the field. The 6-year veteran had the best game of his career – collecting 12 tackles and seemed to be in on just about every play. Fort is the best athlete the Steelers have at the inside linebacker position, and it wasn’t hard to see the upgrade in coverage over Jon Bostic.
I thought the defensive line as a unit had a good game overall. Javon Hargrave added yet another sack, and increased his season total to 6.5. Although, Stephon Tuitt’s stat line was modest at best (2 tackles), he was able to help hold Austin Ekeler to 13 carries for 21 yards (though RB Justin Jackson had a big second half performance). The Steelers defensive line was able to deliver pressure to Rivers most of the night.
I know it sounds like a cop-out blaming the Steelers loss on the officiating, but that is really what it came down to. The Chargers were able to complete a 46-yard touchdown to Travis Benjamin in the first half that should have been called back from an obvious false start penalty. Later in the game, Brian Allen was blatantly shoved in the back on a tackle he likely would have made on a punt return that went for a touchdown. The Steelers need to start playing better, but the refs really stole all of their momentum this game. Game-changing calls (or lack thereof) should be review-able when it changes the outcome of the game.
Despite not being able to create turnovers, Sean Davis has been solid most of the year. However, he made a gut-wrenching, bone-headed play on Sunday night – jarring a would-be interception loose from teammate Joe Haden, and popping the ball up to be caught for a touchdown by the Chargers. This ultimately helped seal the game for San Diego in what was a night of a series of unfortunate events for the Steelers.
Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler
What is going on with these coaches? Mike Tomlin has lost 9 straight challenges and threw down the red flag on a spot call that clearly wasn’t going to be changed. Meanwhile, Keith Butler is getting linebacker Jon Bostic matched up against Keenan Allen on the most important play of the game. It was a horribly called and executed game from Keith Butler’s defense, who saw Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen expose poor match-ups all night long.