Tim Benz: Airing of grievances from Steelers’ blown lead to the Chargers – Tribune-Review

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December 3, 2018 11:24 am Published by

Updated 3 minutes ago

We air our grievances, win or lose. After the first 30 minutes of football, it appeared we’d be doing so after a Pittsburgh Steelers victory on Sunday night.

But the Los Angeles Chargers erased the largest deficit of any visiting team in Steelers history by closing a 16-point gap and ultimately winning 33-30 at Heinz Field.

There were plenty of reasons why. So, let’s get to them.

And, no, the flexed time change will not be on the list.


Defensive execution

The defense is regressing and now resembles the unit we saw at the start of the year. It allowed 303 rushing yards over the previous two games against the Broncos and the Jaguars. It allowed 370 total yards and 33 points Sunday.

Plus, the team blew a second-half lead for a second straight game.

Part of that was the fault of special teams play, which we will get to shortly.

“You can’t say anything about our offense,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said. “Our offense put up 30 points. As a defense, we’re not getting the job done.”

The biggest problem was trying to contain Keenan Allen. The Chargers wide receiver went off for 148 yards and a touchdown.


Defensive scheme

Speaking of Allen, he caught 14 of 19 balls thrown in his direction.

“We got caught in a lot of zone coverages that put our linebackers on Allen,” cornerback Mike Hilton said. “They took advantage of it. It was frustrating.”

Hilton also said he wasn’t covering Allen in the slot as often as he covers most receivers in that position.

That was a poor decision when designing the defensive scheme.


Special teams

They were an adventure again.

On the plus side, L.J. Fort deflected a punt. And the Chargers missed a field goal themselves.

But Chris Boswell muffed another extra point, his fifth of the year.

The Steelers also allowed a punt-return touchdown by Desmond King II in the fourth quarter.

Plus, they jumped offsides on three straight kicks at the end of the game as Los Angeles’ Michael Badgley was trying to boot the game-winning field goal. One was missed, one was blocked, the third was made.

Do either of the first two misses occur if the Steelers aren’t offsides? Well, certainly the second one doesn’t.

Maybe the first one?

“Sometimes when you get a good jump, it looks like you jumped offsides,” said Joe Haden. “I’ve got to get a good look at it. I didn’t feel like we were offsides.”

Haden was called for the first offsides. He recovered the loose ball on the Artie Burns block on the second one that was overturned by penalty.


Officiating

That wasn’t the only play that was in dispute by the Steelers. And the other ones were much worse.

Regarding that punt return, Brian Allen thought he was blocked in the back. King’s score and the ensuing extra point allowed for the game to be tied 23-23.

“It was definitely a block in the back that was missed,” said Allen. “It’s definitely frustrating because the play went for a touchdown. That could’ve been the outcome of the game.”

Judge for yourself. He’s the second Steeler in your screen, wearing number 29.

Never mind. I’ll be the judge. Yes. The officials missed that call. But Darrius Heyward-Bey, the first Steeler in your screen who went screeching by King, missed the tackle. A sin he admitted to after the game.

“I’m just supposed to make the tackle,” Heyward-Bey said. “That’s what my job is. And everybody else’s job is. And we didn’t do that.”

An obvious false start that was missed by the officials helped Los Angeles’ cause, too. Look at how early Sam Tevi gets going before the snap on Travis Benjamin’s 46-yard touchdown.

If he had moved any earlier, they could’ve flagged him before the national anthem.

“My daughter could’ve seen that was a false start,” Allen said.


Turnover ratio

Yup. Still an issue. The club is minus-8 now.

Ben Roethlisberger threw his 13th interception. It was ugly.

Meanwhile, the Steelers failed to get a turnover again. In the past three games, they’ve caused one meaningless fumble at the end of the Jaguars game.

Even when they were in position to get them, it didn’t happen. In fact, one would-be Steelers takeaway turned into a touchdown.

That was Sean Davis dislodging the ball from teammate Joe Haden. Allen caught it for a score.

“I saw them throw the ball,” said Haden. “I caught it. I went to tuck it. And that’s when I got smacked. And I lost the ball.”

And that opened the door for the Chargers comeback, making the score 23-15.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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