Winds of change sweeping over Steelers

The conservative four-corner offense is out the window. These Steelers want to keep scoring until the clock runs out.

Throw away everything you used to believe about the Pittsburgh Steelers offense.

This coaching staff has finally learned its lesson. It will no longer try to sit on the ball at the end of games with a running attack it now realizes it doesn't really have.

In fact, Hines Ward told me after the game the Steelers will now keep the pedal to the metal all day long, something it did not do losing to Chicago and Cincinnati the previous two weeks.

The results were a 497-yard, 38-point performance against the San Diego Chargers in which the Steelers attempted seven passes in the fourth quarter in a game in which they entered the final 15 minutes with a 28-7 lead.

As it turned out, the Steelers needed nearly every point they could get as a previously listless San Diego team scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery and also recovered an onside kick, scoring 21 points in the final 12:37.

The bottom line is that the other team isn't going to stop trying to score so why should you?

The Steelers have finally come to that realization and the days of Roethlisberger throwing 20 passes in the first half of games and five in the entire second half are now over.

The ironic thing is that this happened in a game in which the Steelers were actually running the ball effectively, rolling up 177 yards rushing on 36 carries.

© The Steelers faced a must-win situation against the San Diego Chargers.

A 2-2 start, while not ideal, is something that can be recovered from, particularly after AFC North leading Baltimore lost at New England earlier in the day to fall to 3-1.

But a 1-3 start, well, as linebacker James Farrior said earlier in the week, "If we lose this one, it's not going to be looking good for the Steelers."

Since 1970, the Steelers have begun a season 1-3 nine times. In just two of those instances have they recovered to make the playoffs; in 2002 when they rebounded to finish 10-5-1; and in 1976 when they opened 1-4 but won their final nine games.

It can be done. It's just an awfully big hole to dig out of, particularly in this year's AFC, where there is a definite caste system between the good and bad teams. There's not much in the way of middle ground.

Besides, 2-2 just has a different feeling to it.

And in a couple of weeks, after the Steelers get to 4-2 following victories over Detroit and Cleveland, nobody will remember the two-game losing streak.

© Plenty will be forgiven by fans for Rashard Mendenhall's apparent lack of preparation before last week's game in Cincinnati as well.

When you rush for 165 yards on 29 carries and add another 26 yards on two catches, you'll buy yourself a lot of forgiveness.

For the first time in his two-year career, Mendenhall looked like a first-round pick. He ran hard. He ran decisively. And perhaps the biggest thing was that, with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, he put the Chargers away.

Some will argue that it came against a soft San Diego defense. But when you look down this team's schedule, there's a lot of soft defenses remaining.

And San Diego's defense was good enough to get the Chargers into the playoffs in 2008.

© It's still troubling that the defense is giving up a bunch of points in the fourth quarter of games.

The two touchdowns the Steelers allowed on back-to-back possession in the fourth quarter were much too easy.

The Steelers have now allowed an astounding 48 points in the fourth quarter of four games this season and 30 in the other three quarters.

Think about that this way, if the Steelers gave up 48 points in one game, fans would be going crazy. But that's the equivalent of what the Steelers have done so far.

Certainly the Stefan Logan fumble and return for a score isn't on the defense's head, but the other two touchdowns the Chargers scored Sunday came on three- and four-play drives.

That's unacceptable for a Dick LeBeau-coached defense.

© I liked the use of reserve offensive lineman Doug Legursky as a fullback on Mendenhall's first touchdown run, a one-yard plunge in the first quarter.

It showed that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is willing to thing outside the box to come up with ways for this team to solve its short-yardage problems.

And Legursky showed some quickness getting through the hole and leading Mendenhall into the end zone. He got a nice block on inside linebacker Brandon Siler as well, living up to his nickname "Bronco" Legursky.

© Tomlin showed some guts in the second quarter, keeping the offense on the field and going for it on fourth-and-inches from his own 30 with a 14-0 lead. Ben Roethlisberger converted the first down on a sneak and the Steelers kept on rolling, going in for a second touchdown by Mendenhall and a 21-0 lead.

When faced with a similar situation following Mendenhall's touchdown – fourth-and-two from his own 40 with 38 seconds remaining – San Diego coach Norv Turner elected to punt.

That's why Tomlin is Tomlin and Turner is, well, just another coach.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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