Chargers at Steelers Pre-Game Notes

Trying to end on a winning note won't be easy for the San Diego Chargers. The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the all-time series, 17-7. The Steelers have never lost in the regular season to San Diego in Pittsburgh, where they are 11-0, and have won eight of the past nine overall.<br><br>The Chargers will never forget the 1994 AFC title game, when the nine-point underdogs upset the Steelers, 17-14. Tony Martin's touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter sent the Chargers to their lone Super Bowl.

Chargers Notes:

Both Schottenheimer and Steelers' coach Bill Cowher are Pittsburgh-area natives. It was Schottenheimer who in 1985 gave Cowher his first NFL coaching job, when hiring him to be his special teams coach when he was the head coach in Cleveland. Cowher was also on Schottenheimer's staff with the Chiefs, from 1989-91.

The Chargers are wrapping up their swing through the AFC North. They've gone 1-2, with losses at home to the Bengals and Ravens, and a road win at Cleveland.

Scoot over, Nate: Tomlinson, who leads the NFL in combined yardage, is 68 rushing yards from surpassing Natrone Means for second all-time in franchise history.

TE Antonio Gates' arrow continues to point upward. The undrafted rookie who played basketball, and football, at Kent State is coming off the best game of his short career: five catches, 117 yards. He was a nominee for rookie of the week for his efforts.

A cornerstone of any Schottenheimer team is winning the turnover battle. But not doing that is among the reasons the Chargers are in last place; they are a minus-nine, only the Bills, at minus-11 are worse. "This turnover thing is driving me crazy," Schottenheimer said. The Chargers had four turnovers (three pick, three lost fumbles) in the loss to the Packers.

Should be a sparse turnout on Sunday, even in football-mad Pittsburgh. A crowd of only 40,000 is expected at the 60,000-capacity Heinz Field.

Ever wonder what happens if you are called for delivering a shot under the chin to QB Brett Favre? LB Ben Leber knows after getting a roughing penalty called on him. "(Favre) was giving me the eye, and all his teammates were yelling at me," Leber said. The two did shake hands following the game.

Excuse the Chargers for trying to forget their last game with the Steelers. That outing also marked the last sighting of Ryan Leaf in a Chargers uniform. Although, maybe that should be a cause for celebration.

The team added former Charger OL Ed Ellis to the roster; Van Buren went on IR.

LaDainian Tomlinson has scored eight touchdowns (rushing and receiving) in the last six games.

Chargers Injury Report:

Tomlinson sat out Wednesday and Thursday with a toe injury, but he should go Friday and will play Sunday.

With Courtney Van Buren out, Solomon Page will return to right tackle, with Damion McIntosh getting back at left tackle -- their health willing. Both have missed time with ankle injuries, but they did practice on Wednesday.
C Jason Ball (ankle) is probably out another week, with veteran Cory Raymer filling in for him. Raymer is playing with a broken right hand.
OL Kris Dielman (ankle) did practice Wednesday and Thursday and has been upgraded to probable.
LT Damion McIntosh (ankle) practiced and should go. His health is imperative to a weakened offensive line.
T Solomon Page (ankle) did not practice Thursday and is questionable.

WR David Boston needs to get through the game. He's battling a shoulder/neck injury. The Chargers are thin at that position, already missing Tim Dwight (lungs) and Eric Parker (shoulder).

Wide receiver Reche Caldwell suffered a hamstring injury during Thursday's practice, prompting Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer to say "we'll have to wait and see how it is." TE Justin Peelle (concussion) practiced and should be good for Sunday.
TE Stephen Alexander (groin) didn't go and shouldn't be counted on for Sunday.

Steelers Notes:

Coach Bill Cowher is 5-1 against San Diego in the regular season, 5-2 overall.

Cowher acknowledge the Steelers threw the ball too much last Sunday against the Jets, considering the blizzard conditions at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. He admitted that QB Tommy Maddox had trouble gripping the ball in the poor weather. Maddox completed just 16 of 38 passes for 137 yards. The Steelers ran it only 24 times with Jerome Bettis gaining 68 yards on 16 carries.

"In hindsight, if we had known that passing so much would have been incompletions, yes we probably should have run it."

Joe Horn's cell phone call after he caught a touchdown pass in New Orleans didn't go down well with Cowher.

"I think it is disrespect to the game, in my opinion," Cowher said. "Those things to me are not just disrespectful to the players that are on the field, but the players who have played before them."

The Steelers traditionally powerful running game stands 31st in the NFL and the overall offense has slipped to 22nd in the league.

The Steelers have rushed for more yards than any NFL team since Bill Cowher became their coach in 1992 with 25,387 yards, but they rank 31st in the NFL this season with an average of only 89.4 yards per game.

K Jeff Reed has missed his past two field goal tries, four of his last six and seven of his last 13. He has made 20 of 29 after kicking 17 of 19 as a rookie. "He is in an inconsistent slump right now," Cowher said.

WR Plaxico Burress is having his worst season in the past three and probably will not pass 1,000 yards, not good timing for someone with one year left on his contract.

WR Hines Ward needs 44 yards to become the fifth receiver in Steelers history to top 5,000 yards receiving. Ward will have accomplished the feat in six seasons. His 417 receptions rank second in team history to John Stallworth's 537.

SS Troy Polamalu was named the team's rookie of the year even though he has not started a game. Nevertheless, he leads the team in special teams tackles and also has played in their nickel and dime passing defenses all season.

QB Tommy Maddox has thrown six of the eight 300-yard passing games by a Steelers quarterback since 1998, but the Steelers have not won any of his 300-yard games. He needs 13 more passing attempts to set a team record, now held by Neil O'Donnell with 486 in 1993.

Steelers Injury Report:

Marvel Smith will remain out with a pinched nerve, which keeps Alan Faneca at left tackle and Keydrick Vincent at left guard. Everyone else is healthy.

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