Matt Steel breaks down the Pittsburgh Steelers' win by coach and player

When you've got the material, write about it, and Matt Steel does in dissecting an inspirational Steelers win.

The number one thing I wanted to see from the Pittsburgh Steelers in Monday night's game was whether the defense would dial up blitzes against Philip Rivers like they did the previous week against Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens.

Rivers is highly successful against the blitz. With the San Diego Chargers' porous offensive line, I thought the appropriate plan of action would be to rush four and drop seven while occasionally mixing in the blitz. Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler did not see things the same way. On the first drive, Butler repeatedly left the Steelers' weakest link on defense in one-on-one coverage against Antonio Gates.

The ease with which the Chargers scored on the opening drive did not cause Butler to back off. Later in the game, Gates took advantage of Robert Golden for another easy pitch and catch touchdown.

I believe had the Steelers blitzed less, they would've got home with more than two sacks, seeing as how Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward and the rotation of outside linebackers were destroying the Chargers offensive front.

That said, I ended up liking the aggressive approach. As a coach, when you ask players to play more aggressively, they can often dial up the intensity. The Steelers did create two more turnovers, so mission accomplished. They just need to figure out a way to not give top-tier tight ends so many easy, free releases off the line of scrimmage

* I hope Todd Haley learned that when Ben Roethlisberger returns, he still needs to feed his superstar running back the ball. Like Le'Veon Bell said post-game, he and the offensive line start to figure out the opponent. Breaking longer runs is just a matter of time. Bell put the Steelers in good position on third downs, and Roethlisberger should be more successful in converting them.

* With the return of Martavis Bryant, I think this team will be at its best with two wide receivers and either two tight ends or a fullback and a tight end. Haley primarily uses one wide receiver in his heavy run formations. If they can run that counter with Bryant and Antonio Brown on the field, look out.

* Kudos to whomever designed the touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton. He said it was Roethlisberger, but that was refuted by Mike Tomlin, who said they practiced the play all week. Whatever, it's something Haley should consider implementing in their run heavy/one wide receiver formations. Instead of making the deep shots obvious with Darrius Heyward-Bey on the field, they should try going up top to perhaps Brown on a double move off of play-action instead.

* As for the final drive, great play-calling by Haley with two running plays to get organized. Lining up Heath Miller out wide was critical in setting up the game-winning touchdown run. Just a great job by Haley on the final drive.

* I didn't agree with any of the timeouts Tomlin called at the end of the first half, but I can't overly fault Tomlin for not picking up on the 18-second run-off. I didn't pick up on it either. There are so many things going on that you're trying to figure out with personnel and strategy that you can easily assume the clock is not going to be mismanaged that poorly.

* I did think the final two minutes of the game was managed perfectly. I would have run the quarterback sneak from the one-foot line. Had they not made it, call timeout and give the ball to Bell for the win was my thinking. But I can't fault putting the ball in your best offensive player's hands at the most critical time of the game. Seems like Tomlin was determined to prevent that from happening two weeks in a row. That's smart coaching.

* Danny Smith should be embarrassed by the lack of discipline of his punt-return unit. Jordan Todman's block in the back was about as bad as it gets in that department. I put that on the coach as much as the player.

Player thoughts:

* Last week, I wrote that Jarvis Jones needed to start making some big plays. That'll do. The sack was great, but the forced fumble is more the type of play I've been expecting out of the heavy-handed Jones. We all want Jones to be a significant piece now and in the future. That possibility was the most exciting thing to come out of the Monday night win.

* I might be more impressed with Bud Dupree's hustle than I am with his upside as a pass-rusher. Whether it was blocking for the interception return or leaving the line of scrimmage to make a tackle down the field, I'm really impressed with his play.

* It was fun watching Heyward own Chargers left guard J.D. Walton all night. Heyward's play was one of the reasons I thought the Steelers didn't have to blitz as much as they did. Part of me wonders if the beatdown Heyward put on Walton was part of the reason the potentially demoralized player quit on Antwon Blake's interception return.

* Speaking of Blake, his inconsistent tackling is getting frustrating to watch. He made a great play on the ball to get the interception. I don't yell or talk to the television during games, but his ball security and lack of urgency in getting in the end zone had me yelling in confusion with likely thousands of other fans. He was likely a yard from fumbling away the opportunity. I can't stand when a player counts his chickens before they hatch. Hopefully, lesson learned.

* Another positive performance by Ross Cockrell. While Keenan Allen has had some big games this year, it seemed Cockrell most often was the one to line up against him. I thought Cockrell did a good job of being physical. His forced fumble was negated by a weak pass interference call.

Mike Mitchell has been playing at a Pro Bowl level since Week Two. I anticipate the sacks and interceptions that are necessary to make that happen will come.

* I didn't see a drop-off when Golden replaced the injured Will Allen. There might have even been some improvement in play from the position.

* Count me among those calling for Landry Jones to replace Mike Vick when the Chargers took a 17-10 fourth quarter lead. That would be pretty dumb to put a guy in that situation for his first-ever game action, but the look in Vick's eyes leading up to that moment was telling me he wouldn't get it done. Then he stood in there and delivered the touchdown pass to Wheaton. I give Vick a lot of credit for coming up with big plays in crunch time, considering how he struggled in similar circumstances the previous week.

* Last Monday night, Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico illustrated how awful the Seattle Seahawks were running the ball when Jimmy Graham was on the field. This week, viewers got to witness a true tight end in action. Miller should have been to multiple Pro Bowls over his career, and multiple Pro Bowls often gets one strong Hall of Fame consideration. Unfortunately for Miller, he has been stuck in the "reward the fantasy football guy" era, so large wide receivers like Gates and Tony Gonzalez have taken his Pro Bowls from him. Miller leads Gonzalez, Gates, and Graham in Super Bowl victories a combined 2-0. Miller nationally is to the Steelers offense what Aaron Smith was to the defense.

* Finally, its overdue that I give credit to Ramon Foster. I've been dubbing him as the replaceable piece along the offensive line, but Foster has been outstanding this season. I'm on board in hoping both he and Kelvin Beachum can be retained this offseason. I just hope Foster consults Marcus Gilbert or Bell about their nutrition commitments. If he can drop 20-25 pounds, he could be a consistent Pro Bowl performer.

* While we're mentioning the coming off-season, I'm thinking safety/linebacker Su'a Cravens is the ideal first-round pick for this team. Who better to coach him than the ex-Pac 10 linebacker who played cornerback and strong safety for the Steelers in Carnell Lake? Who better to try and replace the legendary Troy Polamalu than the USC player the coaches dub their best pass-rusher, tackler and cover guy?

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