Coming into their Sunday tilt with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the San Diego Chargers had lost all hope of getting into the postseason at 4-8. The remaining contests on their schedule will be strictly to determine which players will stick around for 2013 and which will be cast aside due to lackluster effort. In the game against the Steelers however, the Bolts lived up to all of the preseason hype they garnered and then some with their performance.
In Ben Roethlisberger’s long awaited return to the gridiron after suffering a shoulder/rib injury that sidelined him for close to a month, most figured the Steelers would be flying high and ready to begin their playoff push. In actuality, the team in black and gold looked incredibly flat and the Bolts simply outplayed them from start to finish.
There will be plenty of questions to ask of the Bolts this offseason as they look to retool their team and coaching staff most likely for next year. One area that cannot be questioned is their midseason acquisition of Danario Alexander who has been by far the best receiver on the team. After two early drops in the game, he bounced back strong finishing with seven catches for 88 yards and two more touchdowns. His presence gives hope for the San Diego passing attack moving forward for the remainder of this year and more importantly the seasons ahead.
On defense, the down linemen for this unit are just outstanding. Even with usual starter Vaughn Martin out, Corey Liuget and Cam Thomas just took turns making plays up front to stifle the Steelers running game. The building blocks are in place with players like Donald Butler and Melvin Ingram at the linebacker level along with Eric Weddle and Marcus Gilchrist in the secondary to really be a force. Most of these guys just getting started in their young careers which bodes well for what’s upcoming for this franchise.
Much of the focus on the Chargers from the outside has been on the uncertainty at the head coaching position, but inside of the locker room, the players have seemed to keep the one game at a time mentality. While this season is a lost cause many guys are playing for their jobs and that pressure is sometimes more impactful than anything else. As the year comes to a close, don’t expect the Bolts to roll over for opponents as they made very apparent in week 14 against the Steelers. They are now 1-14 all-time in the Steel City.
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