I was thinking about posting something about how the Chargers would beat the Steelers like I did about the Colts, but I really wasn’t feeling it. Turns out they got thrashed by the Steelers, and the dream of an 8-8 team winning the Super Bowl is over.
I didn’t see the first third of the game, which was from all reports very competitive. I tuned in just in time to see the Chargers take their last lead of the game on the Kaeding field goal, and watch the Steelers march down the field for a touchdown in response. Then there was that horrible, terrible, very bad third quarter that doomed this effort. I have never seen a quarter of football like it–*one* offensive play for the Chargers in the entire 15 minutes, which was a tipped ball for an INT. Phillip Rivers was quoted as saying
“There was a little bit of disbelief. … You can’t call it a fluke, those guys made plays, but that was crazy.”
which is exactly what I was thinking.
* The Chargers defense missed a lot of tackles at the initial point of contact in this game, apparently starting from when I started watching. The defense was very successful at getting the Steelers into third-and-long situations throughout the second half, but they kept blowing it.
* Let’s not get our knickers in a bunch about Darren Sproles if he leaves San Diego. He’s a very good kick returner and a pretty good change of pace back, not a dominant player. I hope the Chargers keep him, but I hope they don’t break the bank to do so. Remember, he was a fourth-round pick. AJ Smith can find difference-makers on special teams in the lower rounds.
* Shawne Merriman, on the other hand… they need him, or someone like him, badly. A top-flight pass-rusher crashing the pocket does a few things. He turns second banana Shaun Phillips from an overmatched primary threat to a dangerous bookend. He keeps the secondary from having to cover all day. I’m looking forward to seeing what a reloaded defense does with a defensive coordinator who isn’t afraid to bring the heat next year.
* I think LaDainian Tomlinson will be back, and I think he’ll have a better year in 2009.
* I was very encouraged with what I saw from Jacob Hester late in the season. This guy is a fullback who can run and catch, and he seems to be learning to block. Mike Tolbert had some nifty moves but wasn’t much for blocking, and former Charger Lorenzo Neal couldn’t run for shit. Having a guy who can do all three things is going to be helpful.