After serving as Tom Brady’s sacrificial lamb in the season opener, the Pittsburgh Steelers rebounded to win their next two games, but the second victory was a costly one: QB Ben Roethlisberger suffered a torn MCL midway through the third quarter, knocking him out of commission for 4-6 weeks.
Michael Vick (surely there’s a better candidate available, no?) filled in last week for Big Ben, and while he completed 19 of 26 passes, he averaged a paltry 4.8 yards per attempt, to go along with 33 yards rushing on 9 carries. What really killed the Steelers was Vick’s inability to convert on two fourth downs in overtime, and kicker Josh Scobee’s missing field goal attempts from 41 and 49 yards in the fourth quarter.
By the way, if you’re looking for some help around the house, Scobee’s looking for work.
The Steelers’ offense still features all-world playmakers Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown, but it’ll be tough putting points on the board with a hand-me-down QB, a fill-in center and your fourth kicker since August (TBA). Even the return from suspension of deep threat Martavis Bryant is unlikely to help much, given that Bryant last season averaged 21 yards per catch, and Vick has yet to complete a pass of more than 20 yards.
The Chargers’ Philip Rivers is currently leading the NFL in passing with 1,249 yards, and is top 5 in completions and TDs. Unfortunately he’s also thrown 4 interceptions and been sacked 12 times. And that’s how you end up 12th in scoring while being 3rd in total yards.
But things could be looking up, as the Chargers are welcoming back tight end Antonio Gates from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy. Gates is 35 and a few years removed from his last Pro Bowl, but he’s still a reliable target, having pulled in 212 receptions for 1693 yards and 16 TDs over the two previous seasons.
The Chargers’ D is tied with New England for most yards per carry allowed, 4.875, so maybe the Steelers will try to let Bell and Vick run wild, but if the Vick can’t keep the Chargers honest with a few completions, it may be for naught.
Here’s a weird and totally meaningless factoid: regardless of the outcome of the Steelers-Chargers game, this will mark the fifth consecutive week the team’s fortunes have gone in opposite directions. Each time one team has won, the other has lost.
All stats courtesy Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Watch the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the San Diego Chargers at 8:30pm ET Monday on ESPN.