The Steelers put together possibly their greatest offensive game of the past two seasons against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, but still almost lost it after turnovers by the special teams cost them 14 points. But unlike the previous two games, they were able to pull off the victory. Now they have what should be two easy games before facing the tough Minnesota Vikings.
Rashard Mendenhall came out of coach Mike Tomlin’s doghouse blazing as he ripped off 165 yards on 29 carries filling in for the injured Willie Parker. He looked extremely impressive as he mixed power running with speed, and was just as effective inside as he was outside.
The offensive line, headed by Chris Kemoeatu, put forth their best performance in years blocking for the passing game as well as opening holes for the running game. And Mendenhall took full advantage of every little crack as he burst through them for one of the greatest running games in Steeler history.
Ben Roethlisberger also had a great game as he was 26 of 33 for 333 yards and two touchdowns, hitting six different receivers. Hines Ward led all receivers with eight catches for 113 yards and became the first Steeler wide receiver to get 10,000 receiving yards in a career.
Heath Miller had eight catches for 70 yards, Santonio Holmes four receptions for 52 yards and rookie Mike Wallace two for 47 yards.
|BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE —Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Steelers 38 -28 win over the San Diego Chargers.
The Steelers dominated the first half as they have all season, jumping off to a 21-0 halftime lead. But like all the other games this season they fell apart in the fourth quarter, almost blowing a 28-7 lead before finally pulling it out 38-28. Unlike the other games, the offense, behind the excellent play of Roethlisberger and the running of Mendenhall, was able to save the victory. The big difference however, was the effectiveness of the running game.
Because the Steelers held the ball most of the game and the Chargers fell behind early, LaDainian Tomlison only touched the ball seven times for 15 yards, which led to the game being mostly in the hands of Phillip Rivers. And after the costly special teams giveaways, he made a game of it. He was 21 of 36 for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
The Chargers, 2-2, were supposed to run away with their division, now find themselves two games behind the undefeated Denver Broncos who they play this week. The Steelers, on the other hand, find themselves right back in the race for the AFC North title after watching the Baltimore Ravens lose to the New England Patriots 27-21, which dropped them back into a first place tie with the Cincinnati Bengals who barely got past the winless Cleveland Browns in an overtime 23-20 win.
Next week the Steelers face the lowly 1-3 Detroit Lions, who finally got a win two weeks ago. The Lions fell back into their losing ways last week as they were destroyed by the Chicago Bears 48-24, after playing the Bears even in the first half, 21-21. Following the Lions, the Steelers play division foe Cleveland which just may be the worst team in football, if not the Lions. The Steelers should pad their stats against these teams if they don’t take them lightly and beat themselves. Otherwise it should be two easy victories before facing the powerful Vikings led by Brett Favre and the best running back in the game, Aaron Peterson.
The Lions gave up 121 yards on just 12 carries to Matt Forte, while the Bears held Kevin Smith to just 30 yards on 19 carries, so the Steelers running game should stay on track. Rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford has looked good at times, especially two weeks ago in their only victory, and the first half in the Bears game. He finished 24 of 36 for 296 yards.
The exciting part of the Lions game may be letting the Steelers find a way to let the them into this game in the second half or fourth quarter.