Steelers playoff hopes alive but if they keep playing this poorly it won’t matter

The Steelers continue to receive gift after gift from the rest of the NFL. Even the loss today at Heinz Field, 34-24 to the lowly Chargers still leaves them in control of the 6th seed in the playoffs by virtue of the Ravens and Bengals both losing. I’ve said it many times this year, if the Steelers have 9 lives they are burning through at a rapid pace.

As Mike Tomlin said in his post game presser, it doesn’t matter what happens in other NFL stadiums if his team keeps playing like this.

The return of Ben Roethlisberger was supposed to ignite the Steelers 20th overall ranked offense, but instead it was an effort in futility that the Keystone Kops would be hard pressed to out do. Roethlisberger’s stats: 22/42 285 yds, 3 TD’s 1 INT may not seem so bad but considering that the majority of that yardage came when the game was out of reach puts it into perspective.

Sure we can say that injuries to the Offensive Line played a part in it, and they did. That the Steelers coaching staff didn’t have a good game plan on offense, and they didn’t. The receivers didn’t make enough plays early in the game, which is true. The ground attack was non existent; once again all true. But this is the same song and dance we’ve been dealing with all year long. For a team that admitted they maybe felt they were entitled to win games, you’d think things would have been different now.

A telltale sign that things aren’t going your way was evident today, in that by halftime, Ben Roethlisberger was the teams’ leading rusher with 13 yds and by the time game was over he was 1 yd shy of Jonathan Dwyers team leading 32 yds.  Oddly enough, the teams most inconsistent player on offense, Mike Wallace, finished the day with his best performance this season, 7 catches for 112 yds and 2 TD’s. Something is clearly not right with the universe.

No excuses are to be made, this is the 4th time the Steelers have lost to an NFL bottom feeder team this season, and those 4 games loom large in their current playoff situation.

Credit must go to the Chargers, in the same way it went to the Raiders, Titans, and Browns. They simply outplayed the Steelers and wanted the victory more. They executed enough to make enough plays to walk out winners while the Steelers just walked out. For San Diego, they were playing with nothing to lose and it showed. Had their offense not been completely inept in the first half this game might have ended up even worse. Be that as it may, they made adjustments, took some risks, and it paid off when the clock hit zeros.

The Steelers defense was not completely without blame in this one either. Minus Ike Taylor, the secondary routinely gave up big 3rd downs while being uncharacteristically out of position all too often.  The Chargers offensive line was playing with 3 lineman who hadn’t started since training camp, yet the pressure got there a step too late for most of the game. Ziggy Hood registered the teams only sack, and that was a technicality as Hood forced Philip Rivers out of bounds just behind the line of scrimmage. Generally speaking over the last 2 months the #1 defense has played well enough to win, and today they gave the offense enough chances to stay in the game early but it wasn’t enough.

All hope is not lost, and certainly anything can happen but Mike Tomlin, his staff, and players better find a way to finish strong because sneaking into the playoffs on the heels of inconsistent performances like this one will only lead to a quick exit.

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