Wolfley's View From The Sideline

Steelers Radio Network reporter Craig Wolfley has some interesting tales to tell from the sideline of the Steelers' loss Sunday to the San Diego Chargers. Click for more.

I watched the seemingly waiting-for-the-season-to-end, four-win, eight-loss San Diego Chargers go through their warmups. I stood by the defensive backs as they went through their paces. While engaged in some serious back pedaling, Antoine Cason and Darrell Stuckey collided butts first, both falling heavily to the ground. They quickly got up with sheepish looks crossing their faces and I couldn't help but smile thinking that this was somehow a portent of things to come. It was, but not in any way, shape or form that I was imagining.

* In the first quarter, San Diego ran a Ryan Matthews stretch play to their right. If you could see the angle I had, there was a perfect synchronization of guys running to their fluid "run gaps." From Jason Worilds at the point of attack, to James Harrison on the backside, it was a classic run-gap fit across the board in real time. Harrison, on the backside crossed the face of Antonio Gates running down Matthews and smacking him to the turf after a 2-yard gain. A Matador armed with nothing but a cape slows a bull more than Antonio did James.

* The Steelers were in a three-wide, Heath Miller and Jonathan Dwyer formation with Plaxico Burresss and Plax ran a great post pattern and Ben Roethlisberger shotgunned the rock into a window the size of a bread basket 18 yards down the field with three San Diego defenders surrounding Plax. Burress stood to a nice warm cheer from the fans and I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me from days gone by. Good for Plax. That deserves a Jolly Rancher. Don't mind if I do.

* I moved to the defensive end of the bench during the first quarter intermission and I caught Mike Tomlin talking with the defensive backs and pointedly coaching them up on some formation that San Diego was running. The old defensive coordinator in Tomlin is alive and well.

* If there was any confusion over how the second quarter was going for the Steelers, I noticed that where I was standing were a number of chewing gum and Jolly Rancher wrappers surrounding my feet. In other words, I hadn't moved in a while.

* The Chargers started three of their possessions on the downhill side of the field and the Steelers had been unable to flip the field in their favor. After the Chargers scored to make it 10-0, as the offense was lining up on the sidelines prior to receiving the ensuing kickoff, Ryan Clark came over and slam-dunked his helmet to the ground in a ballistic arm-over-the-top action and unleashed a verbal assault that would've scorched the listener's ears. Ben stood placidly by, not acknowledging what was going on, as the rest of the hogs looked on in a semi-detached way.

* Now here's the problem with slamming your helmet to the turf while making a point: When you do that it usually knocks the ear pads out and scatters them all over the place. Plus, if your aim was off and/or the helmet took a bad bounce, you might have inflicted friendly fire on a teammate who might not be amused at your throwing tantrum. Then after you are done screaming, you have to go pick up your helmet and find the dad gum ear pads, put them back in, which in my day, because I was an offensive lineman and had my hands taped heavily, was extremely difficult. So then I had to enlist aid from one of the ball boys, or our equipment manager, Tony Parise, if he was out there. But then I would get a lecture from Tony about how stupid I was for slamming my helmet in the first place. All in all, I learned it was easier to just scream your frustration out without throwing the helmet. Just my two cents.

* Midway through the third quarter, Ben dropped back and threw a WR screen pass to Antonio Brown. David Paulson got hit in the keester with the ball and it was a mad scramble for the deflected ball in the corner of the end zone. Antonio Brown made a none-too-intense attempt to recover the ball which was mere yards from my feet at the back corner of the end zone where I had parked my carcass for the moment. The Turk up in the booth was yelling for someone to fall on the ball and I, in a rare flashback, was wrestling in my head what to do about the situation. When I realized for the briefest of instances that I was considering falling on the ball, I backed away quickly and gratefully thanked God for common sense taking over when madness momentarily had crept in.

* Later on I talked to some birdies in the know on the sidelines and I was informed the play was so close that if they had ruled an incomplete forward pass on the field, they would not have overruled the call on the field.

* Ben needed to stay in the game the whole way. I've heard many comments from fans about how Ben should have been pulled when the game was out of reach, but Ben needed to get his game eyes on. That first half was many times Ben not seeing the field like he was before he was injured. Practice coverages are not the same as game coverages.

* I think when it's 27-3, the last thing anybody is thinking about is two-point conversions. Your vision is narrowed to the next first down, and the next touchdown. Was there anybody in that entire stadium thinking comeback at this point? In the big scheme of things, that's like arguing over shooting 3-pointers versus 2-pointers in a basketball game when you're already down 50-plus points in the fourth quarter to the Harlem Globetrotters. Let's not get into ceramics.

* The worst thing that a CB can do after he gets burned is to play cautious. Curtis Brown did exactly that and it hurt him. Ike Taylor has been great for many years because he refuses to shell up after a rough outing, or even a rough series. He's aggressive throughout and his longevity is a testament to his tough mindset.

* Maurkice Pouncey is a great athlete. He could play any position along the line. But, as of now, he's only great at center. He could be great at guard, but that would mean staying at guard and working at the nuances of playing guard. Hopefully David DeCastro can come along quicker than I had ever dared hope when I stood on the sidelines in Buffalo watching while he got carted out.

* Brett Keisel has been playing some great football of late. He has wore a brace on his knee for most of the season, and I believe it's only been the last game or three he's had the brace off. So I would suspect that the Diesel had been playing with a banged up knee through the early part of the season. He's a monster right now.

* I said back in camp that Keenan Lewis would emerge the starter over Brown and Cortez Allen. He has proven me correct. Keenan has grown stronger over the year, starting with the Cincinnati game, and more specifically when he made the big play in underneath coverage against A.J. Green to prevent a touchdown. That was a confidence builder. Now I hope after this game that he stays aggressive. Refer to my comment on Ike.

* Some of the things I see from the sidelines when Troy is on the field make me think I need my eyes checked. Sure, seeing is believing, but can you believe what you're seeing?

* When I find myself getting into quotes from my book "Zen for Idiots," it's time to close the show.

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