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Old 01-05-2009, 08:57 AM   #1
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Default Replay of previous bizarre meeting with Chargers would be fine with Steelers

Replay of previous bizarre meeting with Chargers would be fine with Steelers

January 05, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The most peculiar game involving the Steelers all season took place at Heinz Field Nov. 16 against the San Diego Chargers. Sunday, they'll have a rematch.

The Steelers would like to see a replay, even if it occurs in the same bizarre fashion.

"I'd settle for any win I can get, no matter how we get it," defensive end Aaron Smith said yesterday after Baltimore beat Miami to send the Chargers to Heinz Field to compete for a spot in the AFC championship game Jan. 18.

How weird was that game? The Steelers won on a cold and snowy day, 11-10, the only game decided by that score in NFL history. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 308 yards, Willie Parker ran for 115, Hines Ward had 124 yards receiving, the Steelers had no turnovers and they did not score a touchdown.

The Steelers outgained the Chargers, 410 yards to 213, intercepted Philip Rivers twice and won by a point on Jeff Reed's third field goal with 11 seconds left. The Steelers also had 13 penalties to San Diego's two, and Troy Polamalu ended the game with a touchdown return that was disallowed after a replay review; the NFL later admitted it should have been ruled a touchdown. Those who bet on the Steelers and the five-point spread lost millions of dollars with that wrong call.

"The first time, they played us hard and it was another comeback effort by us," Steelers guard Darnell Stapleton said. "I think they'll come out and play us tough again. I think both teams will be prepared. I think it will be a good game."

Despite the statistical overload by the Steelers that day, they needed a 73-yard drive in the closing minutes to win it on Reed's kick.

"Hopefully in this game we can capitalize and move the ball and get touchdowns instead of field goals," Stapleton said.

Roethlisberger played much better than fellow 2004 draftee Philip Rivers in that game. He completed 31 of 41 passes with no interceptions and had a rating of 96.4. Rivers, the NFL's ratings champion this season at 105.5, was 15 of 26 for 164 yards, two interceptions and a season-low rating of 44.4.

"Let's hope he has another day like that, huh?" Smith said.

The Steelers held the Chargers to 66 yards rushing, 57 by LaDainian Tomlinson.

But San Diego is a different team than the one that dropped to 4-6 Nov. 16. The Chargers won their final four games to finish 8-8 and win the AFC West Division, then beat the Indianapolis Colts Saturday, 23-17, in overtime, for their fifth consecutive win.

"They came on strong," Smith said. "They were a good team that seemed to struggle early on but they came on lately."

Tomlinson played only a little more than a quarter Saturday against Indianapolis and it appears his groin injury may not allow him to play Sunday. Darren Sproles replaced him and ran for 105 yards, caught five passes for 45 yards and had another 178 on a combined seven punt and kickoff returns. Sproles had one carry for no yards, one catch for 9, one kickoff return for 12 and a fair catch on a punt in Heinz Field Nov. 16.

Tight end Antonio Gates, held to 10 yards on two catches by the Steelers, caught eight for 87 against the Colts.

"We have to stop Gates and try to control their passing game, and try to control Sproles," Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "Hopefully it will be snowing and 20 degrees. But it really doesn't matter. At this point, it's one game and go home. Everyone knows that you work all season to get to the playoffs."

The Steelers' victory against San Diego was the first of five in a row as they finished their 12-4 regular season with six wins in their final seven games to earn the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Sixth-seeded Baltimore plays at No. 1 seed Tennessee Saturday in the other AFC divisional playoff game. The winners of the two games will play in the AFC championship game. If the Steelers win, they will either play at Tennessee or the Ravens will come to Heinz Field. The Super Bowl is Feb. 1 in Tampa.

Since 1994, the Steelers are 5-0 in their first playoff game following a bye.

This will be the fourth time in the past three seasons the Steelers and Chargers will play, and the Steelers are 6-1 against San Diego since 1995. They have lost their only two previous playoff games to San Diego, both at home, in 1982 and their infamous upset loss in the AFC championship game after the '94 season.

The Steelers were impressed with the Chargers' victory against the Colts Saturday.

"They ran the ball well, which is the key," Townsend said. "Their defense contained Peyton Manning and didn't give up many big plays."

Everyone knows San Diego's stars, but "I thought they had a good line," Smith said. "That's one thing that stood out in our first game. Not many people talk about their line."

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Old 01-05-2009, 10:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Replay of previous bizarre meeting with Chargers would be fine with Steelers

All I have to say is the penalties better be more evenly matched in the 2nd game. Hopefully this time around our offense can get in the end zone. I am sure the defense will be ready and LeBeau will have some new wrinkles for the rematch.
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: Replay of previous bizarre meeting with Chargers would be fine with Steelers

Originally Posted by markymarc View Post
I am sure the defense will be ready and LeBeau will have some new wrinkles for the rematch.
With the way the chargers played yesterday, dickie better be throwing in some new wrinkles. They definitely played better than their 8-8 record.

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