October 5, 2009
By Donald Starver
“Awesome, Awesome,Awesome, WHAT?!?, phew!!”
-Pam Prinz (via Facebook)
I don’t think that I could have summarized Sunday night’s game any better than Pam Prinz, one of my friends on Facebook, did in the above quote.
The Steelers played 3 awesome quarters, then tried to blow the game in the 4th quarter before finally pulling out a victory in the end. “Phew!!” is right.
For the third consecutive week, the Steelers have suffered a 4th quarter meltdown which leaves fans asking “what is wrong with the 4th quarter defense?”
With 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Steelers led the Chargers 28-0, and most Steelers fans thought the game was in the bag. After all, if the Chargers hadn’t been able to score in the first 43 minutes of the game, what could they possibly do with only 17 minutes left in the game?
But these are the 2009 Steelers, and they don’t seem to be satisfied unless they’ve left their fans on the verge of cardiac arrest. So they found a way to let the Chargers back into the game.
After leading 28-0 with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Steelers found themselves up by only 7 points with 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Huh?
It took a field goal by Jeff Reed with 48 seconds remaining in the game to finally put the game safely out of reach and allow Steelers fans to breathe a sigh of relief.
Despite the close score, the Steelers were once again dominant. They held the Chargers and their star running back LaDainian Tomlinson to a total of 16 rushing yards. That’s right, 16.
The Steelers outgained the Chargers with 516 total yards versus only 270 for San Diego. They also dominated the time clock, holding the ball for a full 40:20 while only allowing the Chargers 19:40 total time of possession.
But the real story of the game was Rashard Mendenhall. After being benched last week because he didn’t know his playbook, Mendenhall got the start due to an injury to Willie Parker. Mendenhall took advantage of his opportunity by rushing for 165 yards on 29 carries. More importantly, many of those yards came on tough, physical runs between the tackles, something the Steelers had been unable to do up to this point.
Mendenhall’s rushing success made things much easier for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 333 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Steelers win, combined with a Baltimore Ravens loss to the New England Patriots, leaves the Steelers only one game out of first place in the AFC North.
The AFC North leading Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals have to play one another next week, so if the Steelers can defeat the Detroit Lions, they will gain ground on at least one of their AFC North foes.
Ordinarily I’d feel very confident when the Steelers have back-to-back games against the lowly Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. However, I know that this year’s Steelers team will find a way to make both of these games exciting to the very end. That’s not a good thing in my opinion, but I’m starting to get used to it.
Now where did I put my heart medicine?
(If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below. Also, please subscribe to our blog by pressing the orange button below. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the doohickies at the bottom of the right column of this page. Thanks.)