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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Keys to the Game
The Chargers return to action Sunday afternoon when they visit the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here are five things to watch for that could dictate the outcome.
1. Bring Down Big Ben–He’s quick and nimble, and measuring in at 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, Ben Roethlisberger is a load to bring down. Defensive coordinator John Pagano said his defense needs to wrap up the Steelers quarterback and keep him from extending plays outside the pocket. Returning from injury after missing the last three games with a shoulder and rib ailment, there is a possibility Roethlisberger could be a bit rusty, but the Chargers defense can’t rely on that being the case. They need to get to him early and often to prevent him from getting into a rhythm.
2. Balanced Offense – The Chargers have faced a number of top-notch defenses this year, but the Steelers may be the best. In fact, entering Sunday’s game, the Steelers boast the top ranked unit in the league. In order to be successful, the Chargers will need to enact a more balanced game plan than last week against the Cincinnati Bengals when they called just nine running plays. Rushing the ball will be even more important since the Steelers pass defense ranks first in the league.
3. Offensive Line Gelling– It’s understandable that fans are worried about the offensive line. The unit lost three starters last week with Jeromey Clary, Mike Harris and Tyronne Green all leaving the game with injuries. Now, it appears manning the tackle positions will be former practice squad player Kevin Haslam at left tackle and Reggie Wells, who was signed on Wednesday, suiting up at right tackle. How quickly the unit can gel together will play a significant role in obtaining a balanced offense..
4. Limit the Big Play – The Bolts did a great job last week of limiting the big play that Cincinnati thrives on with A.J. Green. Now, the defense will look to do the same against Mike Wallace. The Steelers receiver has 52 catches for 616 yards and six touchdowns while tight end Heath Miller leads the way with 56 receptions for 613 yards and seven scores.
5. Hostile Heinz Field – From raucous fans waving the Terrible Towels to weather that looks to be rainy and cold, the Chargers will face a number of tough conditions on Sunday. The team has also lost their last four games away from Qualcomm Stadium which adds to the number of factors working against the Chargers as they look to capture a road win on Sunday in Pittsburgh.