Justin K. Aller
The Pittsburgh Steelers made the final scoreline respectable after trailing 27-3 to the struggling San Diego Chargers, but still lost an ugly game in Ben Roethlisberger's return from a rib injury.
The Pittsburgh Steelers came out flat in an ugly offensive performance against the San Diego Chargers, losing a chance to gain a game in the AFC North standings with both the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals losing.
The final score only revealed a 10-point loss, but that doesn't reveal how thoroughly the Steelers were beaten. The score was 27-3 before Ben Roethlisberger tossed three of late touchdowns in his return from injury. The team went 1-1 with Roethlisberger out, and although he played alright in his return, Pittsburgh once again couldn't move the ball on the ground - only 32 yards for Jonathan Dwyer - and San Diego's troubled offense clicked as Philip Rivers threw for three touchdowns of his own. As Steelers blogger Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain detailed in his postgame recap, the problems started up front.
San Diego's offensive line was supposed to be the battered of the two units, but the Steelers front five looked as miserable as they have at any point this season. Losing left guard Willie Colon in the second quarter shifted Maurkice Pouncey from center to left guard, and brought in Doug Legursky, but the result wasn't an improvement or a detraction.
A lack of protection or anything resembling a crease in the overwhelming Chargers' front seven mauled any game plan the Steelers may have had. Even in times when Roethlisberger had time to throw, dropped passes ruined the moment.
The Steelers are now 7-6 with three games left in the year. They still have a Wild Card berth in their grasps, but a win here would've been big: the Chargers had lost four straight coming into the game and had never beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh before.