Six Pack of Observations: Chargers at Steelers

Here are six quick-hit observations on the Steelers’ 35-17 playoff victory over the Chargers on Sunday.

1. Welcome back to the party Willie Parker.
In Parker’s final six games of the regular season, he rushed for over 90 yards just once (Week 17 vs. Cleveland). He rushed for 146 yards on Sunday and it completely opened up the Pittsburgh offense. Thanks to Parker’s dominance, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t face much pressure and he was able to produce a couple of big plays in the passing game. It’s no secret that when the Steelers can run the ball, their offense can be as dominant as they were tonight. But when the defense doesn’t have to honor the run or commit extra defenders, that’s when Big Ben gets in trouble and turnovers occur. Parker was easily Pittsburgh’s MVP on Sunday.

2. Mike Tomlin is learning.
Mike Tomlin has come a long way in one year. In the Steelers’ postseason loss last season to the Jaguars, Tomlin made several poor decisions that aided in his team’s demise. Down 7-0 early in the first quarter, the Steelers faced a 4th and 8 from the Chargers’ 34-yard line. Tomlin sent his offense back onto the field in an apparent attempt to go for it, but the Steelers then shifted into punt formation and Ben Roethlisberger pooch-punted the ball, which was downed at the 9-yard line. Sometimes Tomlin forces the action by being overly aggressive. In that situation, there was no reason for Pittsburgh to go for it. The likelihood that they pick up the first down was slim, it would have given San Diego the momentum had they been stopped and it would have taken the home crowd out of it early. Instead, Tomlin wisely punted it and allowed his defense to force a punt, which Santonio Holmes turned into a 67-yard touchdown. Granted, Tomlin’s decisions to run a fake punt in the first half and go for it on 4th and goal in the second half backfired, but hey, you can’t fault the man for being aggressive. At least he’s learning when to take calculated risks.

3. Complete this sentence: Philip Rivers is…
A) A great young quarterback or B) A quarterback who operates by smoke and mirrors. Check out Rivers’ final numbers: 21-35, 308 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. Besides the one pick, those are phenomenal numbers. But you watch him play and you wonder why his stats are so good. Can anyone honestly say that they were greatly impressed with his play tonight? He hung onto the ball too long, he threw into double coverage and threw an interception in the red zone (albeit the ball was batted at the line of scrimmage), which is a cardinal sin for quarterbacks. No disrespect to Rivers, but how did he finish with such great numbers this season? It’s quite the mystery.

4. The Chargers need to do everything in their power to re-sign Darren Sproles.
Even though he only finished with 15 rushing yards on 11 carries, Sproles once again showed his speed and play making ability on returns and in the passing game. It’s clear he’s not an every down back, but the guy is explosive. The Chargers let Michael Turner get away last offseason and it would be wise if they didn’t let Sproles escape without making a huge push to retain his services.

5. Ravens-Steelers is a fantastic AFC Championship matchup.
How good is the AFC Championship matchup? Baltimore and Pittsburgh hate each other and gave fans two great games during the regular season. It’s tough to beat a team three times in one season, which is the challenge the Steelers now face after topping the Ravens twice this year. It’s too early to start breaking down the matchup, but the game will likely come down to which team can run the ball effectively because both offenses rely on creating balance. What a great defensive matchup.

6. Useless, but interesting stat of the weekend…
…the Chargers held onto the ball for just 17 seconds in the third quarter, compared to the Steelers’ 14:43. That’s absolutely crazy.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

End of Chargers-Steelers game a black eye for NFL

Troy PolamaluForget for a moment that gambling even exists. Take it out of the equation and focus on the reality of what transpired at the end of the Chargers-Steelers game, because it was a serious black eye for the National Football League.

By now, most of us know what happened, but I’ll set the scene again for those who have missed out on all the hoopla.

Down 11-10 with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Chargers took possession at the 21-yard line. There, quarterback Philip Rivers threw a forward pass to LaDainian Tomlinson, who then flipped the ball backwards to teammate Chris Chambers, who then tossed the ball backwards to another teammate, but Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu intervened, knocked the ball out of the air and recovered it on the 11-yard line. From there, Polamalu returned the ball into the end zone, which referees signaled a touchdown. Pending review and an extra point, the Steelers should have won 18-10.

But that’s not what happened. Officials did review the play and determined that it was in fact a touchdown. However, after reconvening, they determined that one of the Chargers’ lateral passes (the one Tomlinson threw) was an illegal forward pass and therefore the touchdown didn’t count.

No harm no foul, right? The Steelers would have won the game regardless and everyone involved can rejoice at the fact that no game in the history of the NFL has ever ended with an 11-10 score.

But the call wasn’t right. Even if LT’s pass was deemed illegal, the ball never touched the ground and therefore the play continues. The result of the play was an illegal forward pass, which the Steelers would have declined, and the touchdown should have counted. Head official Scott Green even admitted after the game that he and his crew “misinterpreted” the rule and got it wrong.


Read the rest after the jump...

Referee admits he blew the final play in the Steelers-Chargers game

Troy PolamaluFollowing the Steelers’ 11-10 win over the Chargers on Sunday, officials admitted that they blew a call off an illegal forward pass that resulted in Troy Polamalu’s touchdown being yanked off the scoreboard.

Pittsburgh still won the game regardless, but had the touchdown stood, the Steelers would have covered the 5-point spread.

Green, in a postgame interview with a pool reporter, said that call was errant — even though his explanation for the confusion was almost as confusing as the play itself.

“We should have let the play go through in the end, yes,” Green said. “It was misinterpreted that instead of killing the play, we should have let the play go through.”

Green said the confusion occurred because there was a misunderstanding about which lateral was in question.

“The first pass was the one that was illegal, but it only kills the play if it hits the ground,” Green said.

“That was incorrect to have killed it at that point. The ruling should have let the play go on. That’s just the way that it played out. We believe the second pass was legal.”

Green was asked why, since the ball didn’t hit the ground during any of the tossing, the officials decided after huddling that the play should have ended.

“We didn’t kill it on the field,” Green said. “After [the] discussion we decided … there was some confusion over which pass we were talking about and it was decided that it was the second pass that was illegal that did hit the ground and therefore we killed the play there.”

However, the officials realized afterward they erred.

“I know,” Green said. “The rule was misinterpreted.”

Well I’m sure people who bet on the Steelers can take comfort knowing that “the rule was misinterpreted.” This was one of the most bizarre situations I’ve seen in a long time and I don’t blame people for being outraged. The Steelers covered and they should have won the bet – plain and simple. And the worse thing is (besides people losing their money) is that they had the call right the entire time. They ruled touchdown, then took it off the board. They really worked hard to get the call wrong in the end.

I can’t prove it, but I know Ed Hochuli and Rex Grossman were in on this somehow.

Vegas must have decided the end of Steelers/Chargers game

I’m not one for conspiracy theories but what transpired at the end of the Chargers-Steelers game had to be a total fix by none other than Vegas itself.

With only seconds remaining in the game and Pittsburgh up 11-10, San Diego took over deep in their own territory hoping for one last miracle. Philip Rivers completed a pass to LaDainian Tomlinson, who then pitched it back to a teammate, who then tried to pitch it back to another teammate but the ball was fumbled and eventually scooped up by the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu. He then returned the fumble into the end zone for an apparent Pittsburgh touchdown.

But after a review, officials determined that it was an illegal forward pass and the touchdown was wiped out. Granted, the outcome of the game didn’t change – the Steelers would have won regardless – but the play did affect the point spread. Pittsburgh was a 5-point favorite and had Polamalu’s touchdown held up, the Steelers would have covered. But with the play overturned, the Chargers covered.

I’m only half serious when I suggest Vegas had anything to do with the outcome of the game, but it was interesting how that play affected so much (at least in the gambling world). Analysts said after the game that it was clearly an illegal pass by LT, so I’ll take their word for it, although it looked totally legal to me. Not only that, but how could officials signal that it was a touchdown only to take the points off the board minutes later?

It’s also crazy that this was the first game in the history of the NFL that ended in a 11-10 final, but I doubt people who wagered on the Steelers care about that useless fact.

Here’s the YouTube video of the play:

More topics related to this subject:

End of Chargers-Steelers game a black eye for NFL

Troy Polamalu’s amazing interception

Proof that NFL.com is not an objective news source

Referee admits he blew the final play in the Steelers-Chargers game

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