STEELERS – CHARGERS POST GAME BUZZ
By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers continued a disturbing trend, losing to their fourth sub-.500 team this season, after the visiting San Diego Chargers pulled off a 34-24 win Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
The Steelers fell to 7-6 and could not take advantage of losses by the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, as the AFC North title and final playoff spots are still up for grabs.
“You can label this game any way that you want, but I’ve been in this league a long time and we just got whipped today,” Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote said. “There are no excuses. They just beat us today. The biggest thing was third down. We didn’t execute. We didn’t get them up front, and we didn’t do the job on the back end. So, all of us on defense were responsible.
“We gave up way too many first downs. (But) this is the NFL. There’s parity. … This whole season has been a learning lesson for us. We lost games to teams that aren’t doing good, but we have to be ready for anything in every game. They had a whole rebuilt offensive line, and they did a great job against us. You can’t take any team for granted in this league.”
It doesn’t seem like the Steelers are taking teams for granted, because they have lost in various ways. They have come from ahead to lose at Oakland and Tennessee and got roughed up pretty good against the Browns and Chargers. Sunday’s performance was quite disheartening, though, and it caused the better than 61,000 in attendance to boo on several occasions.
“It’s unbelievable, when you think about it,” Steelers wideout Mike Wallace said.
“It’s like we keep tripping over our own feet. It’s not so much what they were doing, although they played a great game, but if we eliminate our mistakes and take care of the simple things I think we could be a much better football team.
“The fans are going to do what they need to do, and we need to do what we need to do to not get booed. The way we played, we deserved to get booed. But we just need to keep on fighting. Everybody knows that we have the talent to do it, but we’ve just got to put it together.”
Steelers running back Isaac Redman probably had as succinct response as anyone after the game.
“We played one of our worst games of the year, and we just can’t keep doing this,” Redman said. “We go out and play hard one week, and the next week we come out and have a performance like this. It’s just not Steelers football. (So), we’ve just got to buckle down and execute and calm down and not get too overwhelmed when things aren’t going our way.
“We need someone to step up and take charge, like Ben tried to do today, but we have to give him more help. It just wasn’t our day. You’re not going to get any excuses from anybody in this locker room. We just didn’t go out and execute. We didn’t perform well. They played a good game and deserved to win, but we definitely didn’t play anywhere near our best game.”
Redman added that the Steelers do not prepare any differently before they play a team with a losing record, nor has he noticed anything different from his teammates in the locker room prior to the game. Tight end Heath Miller believed this game was lost in the first half.
“We had many chances to get a few first downs and flip the field position on them, but we couldn’t convert,” Miller said. “That was the difference in the entire game, but it was crucial in the first half. We were fortunate to be losing by only 10 points at halftime, but we put our defense in a poor position the entire half.
“It’s a credit to our defense that they kept the game close, so we need to do a better job of chipping it out of our territory. Even if we don’t get a touchdown, we have to get a couple of first downs at least to punt it far enough to give our defense a chance.”
The season isn’t lost by any means, and defensive end Brett Keisel had a formula for success.
“We have to respond,” Keisel said. “We have to. We need a good week of preparation and show what type of character that we have. It’s the only way we can win these last three games. Good teams find ways to win these games, and we have not done that. We need to win all these games right now.”
The Steelers visit Dallas Sunday and close out the regular season with home games against Cincinnati and Cleveland.