The Pittsburgh Steelers will have their hands full this coming Monday, as they will travel to the west coast with one thing in mind, and that is coming home with a win. That might be easier said than done, as the Chargers have one of the best offenses in the National Football League.
“This is a football team that has put up over 400 yards of offense the last two weeks,” Bill Cowher said, “They've scored over 40 points the last two weeks. They can present a lot of problems from a matchup standpoint.”
The Chargers are lead by Drew Brees, who so far this year has played at the level he did a year ago, when he went to the Pro Bowl. Last week against the Patriots, he passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns, on the way to a 41-17 whooping of New England. Brees has been very solid for San Diego over the last two years, and he should give the Steelers all they can handle.
Another guy who the Steeler must contain and always have someone watching is LaDanian Tomlinson. “LaDanian Tomlinson, I think, is the best back in the game today,” Cowher said “That's my personal opinion. When you look at all the things he can do, look at the fact of what he can do with the ball in his hands running, he can catch, he can throw. He's just a guy who's extremely elusive, he's got great balance and great vision.” Tomlinson leads the AFC in rushing with 450 yards and also has eight touchdown so far. Tomlinson is also averaging 5.4 yards per carry this season. He is very dangerous, and it will be important to the Steelers to stop him in his tracks.
The other dangerous player for San Diego is Antonio Gates. “Antonio Gates is a receiver in a tight end's body,” Cowher said, “He's got size. He's got elusiveness. And above all, he's got outstanding hands. He can catch anything that's close to him. They do a good job of utilizing him. They move him around. They split him out as a receiver. They put him in tight. They do a good job of putting him in situations that create matchup problems. You have to be aware of them doing that. He's a very talented guy that can do a lot of things and do them well.” Last week in New England he caught six passes for 108 yards and is a another dangerous component of that offense.
While this offense plays at a very high level, it will be the task of the defense to knock them down, and limit those weapons. If they can take Tomlinson out of the game, they might have a chance of intimidating the Chargers. The defense has to be more focussed than when they fell to the Patriots and let them rack up 425 yards of offense. Things must change as they once again face another playoff caliber team.
“I know one thing, if you don’t stop LaDanian Tomlinson,” Cowher said, “These guys have rushed for over 200 yards in their past two games. If you don’t stop the run, the only thing Drew will be doing is handing if off left and right. We’ve got to be able to stop that. We’re very respectful of the other elements of their game, but you’ve got to make sure you take away the big play, but every time they put the ball in the hands of 21, that’s a potential big play. We’ve got to be very much aware of him.”
Heading into their Monday night game with the Chargers the Steelers will only be without one player, Clark Haggans, who is out with the groin. Three players are questionable: Hines Ward (hamstring), Joey Porter (knee), and Ike Taylor (knee). In addition, Ricardo Colclough (ankle), James Farrior (back), Jerome Bettis (calf), Duce Staley (knee), Sean Morey (hamstring), and Deshea Towsend (foot), are all listed as probable to play.
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