RUSHING OFFENSE: D - It's hard to get a running game established when you are trailing for most of the game and get the ball for just one snap - one! - in the third quarter. Sproles was bottled up by the Steelers' top-ranked defense as he had to dodge numerous tackles just to get back to the line of scrimmage. The front line was flat-out average; give credit, too, to the Steelers' front seven. LaDainian Tomlinson couldn't go and neither did the Chargers' running game - 15 rushing yards; one rushing first down.
CB Antonio Cromartie
RUSH DEFENSE: D - The Steelers are never shy about running the ball in the playoffs and on a frigid day they did it with panache. Willie Parker torched the Chargers for 146 yards as Jamal Williams was about the only productive player up front and the linebacking corps had difficulty being in the right spot or wrapping up - or both. ILB Stephen Cooper had another solid game but the Chargers will look to upgrade the starting position opposite him - Sunday showed why.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F - The Chargers had the momentum and had quieted the rabid Steelers fans when Santonio Holmes busted a 67-yard punt return for a game-tying score. The coverage team left too big of a hole up the middle and Holmes took advantage of it. It marked the first time since 2003 the Chargers had allowed a punt-return touchdown. Sproles had a 63-yard kickoff return, but couldn't deliver on punt returns. K Nate Kaeding was nursing a sore groin which had P Mike Scifres kicking off to start the game.
COACHING: C - Norv Turner is one smart offensive mind but not even he could whip up something when taking but one third-quarter snap as the Steelers hogged the ball for those 15 minutes. The Chargers seemed to deflate when Holmes ran back his punt and they never recovered from it. The blitzing wasn't as prevalent as the previous week, but Rivera might have been scared to dial up too many with a backup at corner after Jammer went down. The Chargers had been on an emotional high for five weeks and their spark just ran out against a superior team. Not much coaching could have done here as the best team won, convincingly.