Chargers - Steelers Report Card

Two days after a 40-24 to a team in his old stomping grounds, Marty Schottenheimer got to breathe his first sigh of relief on a 3-12 season. His face had become so red from holding his breath in anger at a multitude of San Diego Chargers players, especially after the recent benching and sideline exchange with Drew Brees.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- For the second week in a row, QB Drew Brees has turned the ball over three times (two INTs, one lost fumble). Nothing gets to coach Marty Schottenheimer more than not taking care of the football, and Brees is losing stature fast in his coach's eyes. The fumble came when he was chased from the pocket, but it would be difficult to lay the blame on the pass protection as Brees had plenty of time before he took off running. David Boston was quiet, not catching his first pass until the two minutes into the fourth quarter.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Using a line of street free agents, veterans and an undrafted rookie, the offensive line was OK. Better, maybe than some would expect. That's not to say there was an abundance of holes for LaDainian Tomlinson to aim for. He did manage 91 rushing yards, averaging 4.1 yards a pop. Fullback Lorenzo Neal was active in the blocking game.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- "The Candy Man" can't. Not on this day, anyway, as rookie Sammy Davis was danced on by a number of Steelers receivers as he gave up two TDs and other big gainers. Quentin Jammer and Ben Leber also got out of sorts to allow another touchdown. Marcellus Wiley and Adrian Dingle couldn't give any rush off the edges; backup Otis Leverette did have a sack. Combination of poor coverage and no pass rush.

RUSH DEFENSE: D --Not good. Jerome Bettis has run over a lot of defenses, it just has been a while. But against the Chargers, he turned back the clock and spit out 115 yards and a score. The Chargers' were late getting to gaps, and once there, Bettis plowed right through. The Chargers had hoped the run defense had turned a corner of late, but it was exposed again on Sunday. .

SPECIAL TEAMS: B- -- Antwaan Randle El was kept under wraps, which is an accomplishment in itself. The Chargers got no juice from their return game. Steve Christie hit his lone attempt, from 31 yards.

COACHING: F -- Just when you think it couldn't get worse, Schottenheimer's squad falls behind 21-0 on the road to a tepid Steelers offense, then he pulls his young quarterback after his interception bounced of an official. The Chargers are consistently getting outplayed in the opening 30 minutes, meaning that don't know what they are doing, or don't care. Also, with eight seconds before the half, Schottenheimer went for a 31-yard field goal instead of taking one last shot at the end zone. The way his defense was playing it was obvious this was a day for touchdowns, not field goals. But the way Schottenheimer mishandled the Brees situation was most telling.

Steelers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- There wasn't a lot of yardage and not a lot of passes, just a lot of efficiency. Tommy Maddox completed 11 of 18 passes for 160 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 129.6 passer rating. Antwaan Randle El also completed his lone pass for 9 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Steelers ran 43 times for 181 yards and Jerome Bettis ran 32 times for 115 yards, all of them season highs. Bettis, who passed Marcus Allen to become seventh on the NFL career rushing list, also ran for his seventh TD of the season.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Drew Brees completed 16 of 26 for 198 yards and was sacked just once. But he was intercepted twice, including one that went for a 25-yard touchdown. Brees threw one TD pass and had a 65.9 passer rating before he was yanked late in the fourth quarter in favor of Doug Flutie, who was 5 of 10 for 42 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- LaDainian Tomlinson ran 22 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns and the Chargers had 116 total on 27 carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Jeff Reed made both field goal tries, from 40 and 47 yards. The kickoff and punt coverage teams were superb but they did not get any good returns of their own. Josh Miller averaged 40.5 yards and a 31.5 net on four punts.

COACHING: B -- The offense stuck to the ground early and it helped open up the passing game, a blueprint they should have been following all season long. It took the pressure off Maddox.


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