The Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) had a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the San Diego Chargers (2-3) on Monday Night Football. The Steelers’ late 24-20 heroics over the Bolts helped them avoid slipping further into a playoff ditch. But the win was a struggle on both defense and offense. The Steelers need to know who they are.
The question of whether Michael Vick could lead the Steelers to a win was answered. The cries for Ben Roethlisberger have been avoided until the next loss. Putting up a “W” is always the antidote for any team trying to find answers. The Steelers did that Monday. What they didn’t do is find out what kind of offense they are under the guidance of Vick.
Philip Rivers torched the Steelers’ secondary for 365 yards and two touchdowns. His partner-in-crime was Antonio Gates. Gates was returning after a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. His triumphant return included burning the Steelers for 92 yards. He was the main target for Rivers’ two touchdowns.
The Steelers’ defense was aided by a ton of miscues and penalties by the Chargers’ offense. But Pittsburgh came through with a pick-six on Rivers. With 3:37 left in the third quarter, the Bolts were driving downfield for what looked like another score. Rivers dropped back and looked for Malcolm Floyd. Instead, he found the sticky hands of Antwon Blake. The return was a huge 70-yard momentum changer that kept the Steelers alive. According to info found on the Chargers site, multiple dropped passes could have put the game away for the Bolts.
Vick looked uncomfortable all night.
He played well enough for the Steelers to come away with the win. But his feel for the offense is still shaky. Vick stood tall in the pocket but was sacked three times. He finished the night 13 of 26 for 203 yards and a 73.1 passer rating. His lone touchdown pass was a 72-yard bomb to Markus Wheaton. Take that pass play away and Vick’s numbers look less than average. Michael Vick is not the scrambling machine he used to be. There won’t be many more 24-yard runs to surprise defenses.
The star of the night was Le’Veon Bell. He rushed for a stunning 111 yards and one touchdown. He sidestepped his way through the Chargers like buttered toast. The Steelers’ running back looked like he was trying to carry the faceless offense on his back.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Steelers used the Wildcat formation to beat the Bolts. Le’Veon Bell inched the ball over, with no time left in regulation. Instant replay showed that his knee wasn’t down at the 1-yard line and Pittsburgh takes the game. Gadget plays are fine. But the Steelers must find out who they are, until Big Ben comes back.
Head coach Mike Tomlin talked about the play that sealed the victory in the New York Daily News.
“It was time to go to the mattresses, if you will. We had to do what was required to win. Le’Veon gave us an opportunity to win, and we were trying to do everything we could to move the football.”
[Feature Photo by Donald Miralle / Getty Images]