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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Steelers
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The San Diego Chargers look to snap a four-game losing streak on Sunday when they visit Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game marks the team’s third straight against an AFC North opponent. San Diego has struggled on the road this season, dropping four straight decisions away from Qualcomm Stadium for a 2-4 record away from home.
A Look Back At Last Week
The Chargers dropped their second straight game where they held a lead late in the fourth quarter as the Cincinnati Bengals rallied for a 20-13 win. The Chargers offense was limited by a bevy of ailments to their offensive line, as Jeromey Clary, Mike Harris and Tyronne Green all suffered injuries. As a result, the offense struggled at times and was not able to score a touchdown as their lone TD came from a pick-six by Demorrio Williams.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
In the passing game, Danario Alexander continues to thrive. Against the Bengals, he had his second 100-yard game in the last four weeks racking up a game-high 102 yards on six catches. Since Nov. 1, Alexander has racked up 467 yards through the air placing him amongst lofty company in the NFL. The only players with more yards than Alexander in that span are the Bengals’ A.J. Green (471), Dallas’ Dez Bryant (490), Chicago’s Brandon Marshall (507), Houston’s Andre Johnson (670) and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (790).
On Offense for the Steelers
Pittsburgh hopes to get quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back from injury (shoulder, ribs) when they face the Bolts on Sunday. Prior to being injured, Roethlisberger had completed 209 of 316 (66.1%) for 2,287 yards with 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. His interception percentage (1.3%) is second-lowest in the NFL behind only New England’s Tom Brady. The Steelers’ leading receiver is tight end Heath Miller (56 catches, 613 yards and seven touchdowns), while wide receiver Mike Wallace is second with 52 catches for 616 yards and six scores.
On Defense for the Chargers
One of the bright spots of late for San Diego has been the play of some of their recent draft picks. 2011 first-round pick Corey Liuget is developing into one of the top defensive ends in the NFL, constantly pressuring quarterbacks and coming up with big stops, while 2012 first-round pick Melvin Ingram is coming off his best game as a pro with a career-high six tackles vs. Cincinnati. Second-year cornerbacks Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright are seeing extensive time and showing glimpses of a bright future, while second-round pick Kendall Reyes continues to get better with each passing game.
On Defense for the Steelers
Pittsburgh comes into Sunday’s tilt with the league’s top-ranked unit. The Steelers are holding teams to just 259.8 yards per game, ranking No. 1 in pass defense (166.7 yards per game) and fifth against the run (93.1 ypg). Linebacker Larry Foote leads the team with 84 tackles, while fellow linebacker Lawrence Timmons has a team-best three interceptions, including a 53-yard touchdown return. Safety Ryan Clark is second on the squad with 80 tackles and two picks, while outside linebacker Jason Worilds has a team-high five sacks.
The Chargers and Steelers have met 30 times, dating to 1971. Pittsburgh holds a 22-8 series edge and has won the last three contests. The all-time ledger includes three playoff battles, two of which have been won by the Chargers, including the 1994 AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium.
By the Numbers
For the year, the Chargers rank 26th in total offense (322.1 yards per game), 18th in passing (227.1 ypg), 26th in rushing (95.0 ypg) and 19th in points (21.5). The Steelers rank 20th in total offense (342.0 ypg), 14th in passing (240.9 ypg), 24th in rushing (101.1 ypg) and 20th in points (21.2)
Defensively, the Bolts rank ninth in total defense (335.1 ypg), 21st in passing (240.6 ypg), sixth in rushing (94.5 ypg) and 12th in points allowed (21.4). Pittsburgh ranks first in total defense (259.8 ypg), first in passing (166.7 ypg), fifth in rushing (93.1 ypg) and sixth in points allowed (19.2).
Milestones on the Horizon
Philip Rivers has thrown for 2,969 yards and needs just 531 over the final four games to become the first Chargers quarterback ever with five-straight seasons of 3,500-or-more passing yards.
Malcom Floyd (3,892 receiving yards) needs 63 yards to crack the team’s career Top 10 list. He would take over 10th place from LaDainian Tomlinson, who recorded 3,955 receiving yards during his career in San Diego.
Ryan Mathews (2,389 career rushing yards) is ninth on the Chargers’ all-time rushing list. He needs 131 yards to pass Dick Post (1967-70) for eighth.
Mathews (535 career carries) needs 14 more to pass Gary Anderson (548) for 10th place on the team’s career rushing attempts list.
Mathews has 14 career rushing touchdowns. He is just three scores shy of moving into the Top 10. Currently the Top 10 is rounded out by Hank Bauer (1977-82), Rod Bernstine (1987-92), Dick Post (1967-70) and Clarence Williams (1977-81), who each scored 17 rushing touchdowns during their Chargers’ careers.
Antonio Gates (80 career touchdown catches), needs one more to tie Lance Alworth’s team record of 81.
Gates has 631 career catches and needs 32 more to pass Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome (662) for the fourth-most catches by a tight end in NFL history.
Gates (8,200 career yards) currently ranks fourth all-time in receiving yards by a tight end.
Shaun Phillips has 67 career sacks, tying him with Gary “Big Hands” Johnson for second in team history. With his next sack, Phillips will break that tie. Phillips leads the team this season with seven sacks, 15 pressures and nine quarterback hits.
Quentin Jammer (20) is tied with Chuck Allen (1961-68) for 10th on the team’s all-time interceptions list. With one more, Jammer will tie Woodrow Lowe (1976-86), Bob Howard (1967-74) and Leslie “Speedy” Duncan (1964-69) for seventh.
Eric Weddle(15) needs four interceptions to crack the Top 10.
Nick Novak ranks seventh on the Chargers’ all-time field goals list with 40. He needs three to move past Steve Christie (42 field goals from 2001-03) and into sixth.
Antoine Cason (245 int. return yards) needs 64 to crack the team’s career Top 10 list.
The Chargers need four regular-season victories to reach 400 all-time. The Chargers’ all-time regular-season record is 396-392-11.
A.J. Smith is the winningest general manager in franchise history with 95 wins.
Norv Turner (115) ranks 32nd in NFL history for career wins. Turner needs two wins to tie Dennis Green (117) for 31st and three to tie George Allen (118) for 30th. Former Chargers coach Sid Gillman is 29th with 123 wins.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith was a scout for the Pittsburgh Maulers (USFL) in 1984.
Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Hal Hunter coached the offensive line at the University of Pittsburgh from 1983-84.
Assistant linebackers coach Greg Williams was a secondary and defensive graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh in 2008.
College scout Paul Skansi was a fifth-round draft pick by the Steelers in 1983 and spent his rookie season there.
CBS (KFMB, Channel 8 in San Diego and KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles and Orange County) – Jim Nantz(play-by-play), Phil Simms (analyst)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst) Read