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Analyzing the Steelers Week 6 win over the Chargers, by the numbers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/14/2019 - 4:30am
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Steelers played well in all three aspects of the game in order to secure the win in Los Angeles

The Pittsburgh Steelers got back into the win column, defeating the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17 on Sunday night. Heading into the bye, the Steelers have improved their record to 2-4 as they use the extra week to recover from a barrage of injuries they’ve experienced over the last two weeks. With six players ruled out for Sunday’s game due to injury, the Steelers had an additional five players who dealt with injuries throughout the game.

While many fans expected quarterback Devlin Hodges to “fling the rock” up and down the field in his first start, the Steelers implemented a run heavy attack against the Chargers. For the first time all season, the Steelers ran more offensive plays on the ground than through the air. Hopefully the Steelers running game in Los Angeles is a sign of things to come down the stretch.

It was a very different game for the Steelers in 2019 as the defense made a statement early and the offense controlled the ball. With this in mind, here are some additional numbers which contributed to the Steelers win in Week 6.

10

I was so impressed with this performance and I had to start with this stat. The Steelers were credited for 10 passes defensed, three of which were by Cameron Sutton. Three of them were batted balls at the line of scrimmage and the rest were defenders knocking the ball away from receivers. It’s the first time the Steelers had double digits in this statistical category since Week 1 of 2018 in the overtime tie against the Cleveland Browns.

8

The Steelers finally got past their dreaded number of three third-down conversions, and they had the number crushed by half time. In all, the Steelers were 8 for 13 on third down conversions, leading to long drives and keeping their defense off the field.

8:10

The Steelers finally owned the time of possession advantage in a game in 2019, holding the ball for more than eight minutes longer than the Chargers. On top of that, the Steelers had a drive in the first quarter which lasted 9:09 ending with a 26-yard James Conner touchdown catch and run from Devlin Hodges, their longest drive from a time standpoint in 2019. Their previous longest drive was in Week 2 against Seattle which was 6:40 and ended in a Mason Rudolph touchdown pass to Vance McDonald.

36

Part of the reason the Steelers held the ball for so long were their 36 rushing attempts, which was 10 more rushes than they had in any game in 2019. With 124 yards on the ground, the Steelers average 3.44 yards a carry. More importantly, they had nine first downs via the rush.

3

One large contributing factor to the Steelers victory were the three turnovers they forced. The first was a fumble recovery by Devin Bush which he returned for a touchdown. On the ensuing Chargers drive, Tyson Alualu batted a Philip Rivers pass into the air which Bush intercepted and the Steelers turned into another touchdown four minutes later. The final takeaway was Cam Sutton’s interception to seal the victory.

14

Starting fast was an important factor for the Steelers in Week 6. Even though they went three and out on their opening possession, the Steelers responded with a defensive touchdown and a touchdown off a takeaway to score 14 points in the first quarter. Coming into Week 6, the Steelers only had 13 points in the first quarter in five combined games.

46.3

Jordan Berry has been a pleasant surprise in 2019. On Sunday, he averaged 46.3 yards on his punts which included his last punt of 35 yards which pinned the Chargers at the 1 yard line. Taking away the final impressive punt, Berry’s average would have been 50 yards.

15/16

Quarterback Devlin Hodges did a great job filling in, especially with his short passing game. In passes where the ball did not travel more than 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, Hodges was 15 of 16 attempts with a touchdown. Inversely, this means that passes Hodges threw beyond 10 yards, he was 0/4 with an interception.

So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance Sunday night against the Chargers. While many of these numbers are encouraging, the most important number is getting the win. Do these numbers accurately describe what transpired Sunday night? Were there any other numbers not listed which really stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.

Knee-Jerk Reactions after the Steelers’ 24-17 win over the Chargers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 10:28pm
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers battle for season survival with Los Angeles .

Here we go! The Steelers had a pretty rough start to the the season by going 1-4. To stay even barely afloat, they can’t afford to lose to the Chargers in Los Angeles. This is really a must win. Let’s see if they can pull this off.

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steelers’ chance at redemption as they desperately look for their first win of the new season.

Quarter 1
  • I’m ready to watch football in a soccer stadium. I’m wondering if the Chargers really have a home field advantage in this place.
  • There’s nothing badass about a place called Dignity Health Sports Complex.
  • Gotta keep in mind, the Chargers are struggling as well.
  • Desmond King is scary. Gotta shut him down.
  • I kinda think that the defense is going to have to score some points in this game.
  • Nuts! Hunter Henry is back and he’s the kind of TE that will give the Steelers fits early.
  • Bud with great penetration in the backfield on that run stop.
  • Got lucky on that third-down drop. At least they forced a punt.
  • Here we go. 14,000 yards in college gotta be worth something. Go Duck !
  • Not afraid to pass early. A little further and JuJu might have made some magic.
  • A completion, but a three and out. Bahhhhhhhhh!
  • Bud and Tuitt with some great pressure. With a suspect line, they are going to need to bring a lot of heat.
  • Remember what I wrote about the defense scoring points. That was huge.
  • Bush is always around the action and magic with the ball in his hands. 7-0 Steelers.
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images
  • The rush defense looks stout early.
  • Can’t let the Chargers convert third downs like that.
  • Bush again. Yessssss! That draft-day trade was well worth it.
  • I love how Hodges calls himself “Duck”.
  • We really need Conner to control this game.
  • Conner fought for that huge first down.
  • Thats what we need. Great score by Conner.
  • Nice blocking by Big Al and Vanimal.
  • Hodges is getting a nice gift from the defense. You can’t ask for more.
  • Vince Williams is an animal.
  • Another three and out.
  • That penalty on the Chargers is pretty big. Starting on the thirteen for a rookie could be dangerous.
  • One yard gain. Switzer is the fair catch king.
  • Conner with a nice run again to give Duck room.
  • End of one. 14-0 Steelers.
Quarter 2
  • Need to convert this third down.
  • And Conner does with a great hole by Pouncey and Ramon.
  • Conner is running strong.
  • Great catch and throw from Duck to Diontae Johnson.
  • Bennie Snell Jr. with a four-yard run. I’ll take it.
  • Duck is really mobile, but he just got cracked by King.
  • No. 6 looked poised on the first down, but Conner really bailed him out by fighting for the first. Love it.
  • Would really love to see Hodges and Snell get them in the touchdown zone. That would give them more confidence.
  • Big third down for Duck.
  • Wow! James Conner with a monstrous game. 21-0.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Can’t let up.
  • Oh Chickillo!
  • Vinny Williams makes a difference.
  • Artie “Cushion” Burns giving up a big third down play. That’s familiar.
  • Oh no!!! Bush’s ankle looks really hurt.
  • He’s walking off a little better.
  • Fitzpatrick got lucky on that Williams drop.
  • I hate when Burns is in there.
  • Can’t let them score seven here. I want no part of deja vu from last year.
  • That has got to be intentional grounding.
  • Good.
  • Dan McCullers made that happen. Yay, Shade Tree.
  • Why are they going for three?
  • Doink!,,,,,,,
  • They aren’t risking anything and get the ball back in the second half.
  • End of two. 21-0 Stillers.
Quarter 3
  • Tuitt being out hurts.
  • Offense could possibly put this away with a TD. Lets go.
  • Conner with a nice run.
  • Hodges in the face of a corner blitz with a big-league throw.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
  • Sure he hasn’t gone deep, but he doesn’t really have to.
  • Diontae Johnson would have caught that deep ball, but Thomas Davis tattooed him with an illegal hit. Necessary flag.
  • Thomas Davis is playing dirty. He body slammed Conner. He could be banged up from that play.
  • Nice set up with the screen to BSJ, but the JuJu hold negated it.
  • Bennie Snell Football. Bennie Snell First Down.
  • The Chargers are frustrated and shooting themselves in the collective foot.
  • Snell is running well.
  • I thought Conner was hurt on that Davis play.
  • No. 24 with a big first down by a nose.
  • Good to see Conner back in there.
  • That was scary on the errant snap.
  • Boswell = true. 24-0.
  • Huge knockdown by T.J. Watt.
  • Lets put this game away now.
  • Moncrief with a big catch. Wasn’t an easy one.
  • Wow! Everything is coming up Steelers tonight.
  • Justin Layne with the slap away. But it should be fair catch interference.
  • I don’t think it could be called any other way.
  • Watt is dominant. That was nearly a strip sack and a score.
  • Wow. A Keenan Allen sighting.
  • Bush can’t stick his finger in a face, but it seemed minor. But who knows?
  • Bush has to wrap up Ekeler there late in the third.
  • Chargers really getting moving now.
  • End of three. 24-Zip.
Quarter 4
  • Big coverage sack by Watt and Chickillo.
  • Joe Haden with a huge knock away to force fourth down.
  • Chargers are finally on the scoreboard, but holding them to three is a major victory.
  • That Vanett catch wasn’t.
  • BSJ with a huge fight of a run.
  • Snell is balling.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Hodges with the pick. There’s a hitch in his deep ball.
  • Going to get Burns with a hands-to-the-face.
  • Bush and Hilton missing tackles on Mike Williams. Gotta wrap up.
  • Edmunds with a nice breakup on Henry.
  • Kam Kelly with a missed tackle on Green. Sloppy.
  • Hilton and Bush with a nice stop on the screen.
  • Cam Sutton with a sweet breakup.
  • Burns with the force out. Looks like a TD. Not sure if he had control though.
  • This is a huge drive. They have to drain clock and move chains. Has to be at least a four-minute drive,
  • Snell with a giant run on first down.
  • Really want a conversion here.
  • Switzer = nothing. Damn.
  • If they blow this, it will be devestating.
  • The drive was about 3:06...give or take.
  • Minkah almost had a pick. Ball knocked away.
  • Kelly with a huge hit.
  • Blown coverage.
  • McCullers with a dumb penalty.
  • Sutton with a breakup. He’s looking good.
  • This is getting nerve-wracking.
  • Hunter Henry with the score. Kelly got pushed off, but still beaten.
  • Cum Sutton with a big grab on the onside kick while getting tilt-a-whirled.
  • Snell with the extra effort.
  • They have to move the chains.
  • That was a missed helmet-to-helmet hit by Jenkins on Snell.
  • I don’t love the punt call.
  • I take it back. Perfect kick to the one.
  • Holton is pretty good on ST. That’s why he’s on the team.
  • Hilton almost caught the bomb. Would have been tough.
  • Watt being on the sidelines is disconcerting.
  • Cam Sutton with the theft and almost a score.
  • Phil Rivers had no problem celebrating last year. He’s a punk.
  • Big win.

Once again, I just shot first and I’ll apologize later. All reactions were in real time. Basically, it is the equivalent of watching me do the highlights if I hadn’t been blacklisted by the major networks. Now time to watch it again and see what really happened. Make sure you get your voice heard in the comments below.

Steelers run all over the Chargers in 24-17 prime time win

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 10:15pm
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers go into Los Angeles and get their first road win of the season to head into the bye with some much needed momentum.

When the NFL put together their 2019 regular season schedule, they thought Week 6 of Sunday Night Football would have a matchup of 2004 NFL Draft class quarterbacks between Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers. What they got was a 1-4 Steelers team with third string quarterback Devlin Hodges at quarterback against a 2-3 Chargers team.

Nonetheless, the Steelers were playing to keep their season alive, and head into the bye week with some semblance of momentum. The Chargers were looking to re-insert themselves in the AFC West race with a big home win.

The Steelers won the opening coin toss, and elected to defer their possession to the start of the second half, instead sending their defense on the field to hopefully set the table for their offense to have good field position. And after a first down on the first play from scrimmage, the Steelers defense forced an early punt.

After a three-and-out by Hodges and company, the Steelers’ pass rush was all over Rivers from the first snap. On the second snap of the drive Rivers tried dumping the ball off to Melvin Gordon on a swing pass, but the pass went backwards. Devin Bush had the smarts to pick up the ball and run it into the endzone for the early score. Chris Boswell’s point after was good, making the score 7-0 with 10:51 left in the first quarter.

After the turnover, Rivers responded with a strike to Hunter Henry for a first down on the Chargers’ next drive. But his next pass was tipped by Tyson Alualu and intercepted by, none other than Devin Bush.

He's just getting started.@_Dbush11 pic.twitter.com/xlms5BJy8z

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

What happened next was something which hasn’t happened much for the Steelers so far in 2019. That would be the team turned a turnover into a touchdown. The drive was 7 plays in length, but featured all James Conner. Conner converted a 12-yard run for the second touchdown of the quarter.

Can't stop him @JamesConner_ pic.twitter.com/WItt9Zw2tG

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Boswell’s point-after was good, making the score 14-0 with 4:29 left in the first quarter.

The Steelers were able to stop the Chargers’ offense again, and put together one of the best drives of the season after. With a mix of run and pass, the drive showed tough running by Conner and Benny Snell Jr. as the offensive front started to impose their will on the Los Angeles defense. On 3rd down, Hodges hit Conner on a swing route and after making a defender miss, walked into the endzone from 26 yards out.

Too easy @DevlinHodges10 ➡️ @JamesConner_ pic.twitter.com/2EJxg7dQaf

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2019

Chris Boswell’s kick was good to make the score 21-0 with 6:34 left in the half.

Rivers started to heat up on the next drive, and was finding Mike Williams early and often to move the Chargers into Pittsburgh territory. But on a second and 9, Rivers was flagged for intentional grounding. After a screen pass to Melvin Gordon was stopped short, it set up a 43-yard field goal attempt by Chase McLaughlin. But the kick hit the left upright and the Steelers went into halftime holding onto a 21-0 lead.

Pittsburgh received the ball to start the second half, and the offense put together an impressive drive which lasted nearly half of the third quarter. However, despite the time consumed, on a third and goal situation the Maurkice Pouncey snap went in between Hodges’ legs and although he corralled the ball and threw it away, it resulted in a Chris Boswell field goal. With 8:12 left in the third quarter the Steelers extended their lead 24-0.

The third quarter saw more punts than points scored, but it was the Chargers who were on the move when time expired on the third quarter. A promising drive stalled in the red-zone and the Chargers settled for a 38-yard field goal, making the score 24-3.

With the chance at a long drive to all but ensure victory, the Steelers moved the ball to midfield when Hodges stared down Johnny Holton and was intercepted, giving the Chargers a renewed sense of life with 10:36 left in regulation. Rivers took over at his own 30 and never looked back. Clutch throws, aided by many missed tackles, equated in a Rivers toss to Hunter Henry in the back of the endzone to make the score 24-10 with 7:13 left in regulation.

After a big Benny Snell run on first down, the Steelers didn’t gain another yard and gave the ball back to Los Angeles with a chance to make it a one score game. Rivers took just 8 plays to move 79 yards and hit Henry for his second touchdown of the game. With 1:29 left, and both teams holding onto all three of their timeouts remaining, the ball was in Hodges’ hands to win the game.

After a failed onside kick the Jordan Berry pinned the Chargers at their own one-yard line with 1:03 remaining, and no timeouts. On second down, Cam Sutton intercepted Rivers’ pass to seal the victory.

The Steelers win moves their record to 2-4 on the season heading into their Week 7 bye. The team will need the extra week to get healthy before their Week 8 Monday Night Football game vs. the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold throughout the 2019 regular season.

Steelers vs. Chargers, Week 6: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 9:23pm
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game

2nd Quarter In-Game

Pittsburgh received the ball to start the second half, and the offense put together an impressive drive which lasted nearly half of the third quarter. However, despite the time consumed, on a third and goal situation the Maurkice Pouncey snap went in between Hodges’ legs and although he corralled the ball and threw it away, it resulted in a Chris Boswell field goal. With 8:12 left in the third quarter the Steelers extended their lead 24-0.

Other than the above drive, the third quarter was filled with punts, but the Chargers offense was able to dig themselves out of their own end and were in Pittsburgh territory at the end of the quarter.

Stephon Tuitt leaves Chargers game early with a pectoral injury

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 8:48pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The injury occurred in the first quarter as Tuitt has been ruled out for the rest of the game

Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt has left Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers in the first quarter. According to the Steelers director of communications Burt Lauten, he has been ruled out for the rest of the game.

UPDATE: Tuitt has been declared out for the rest of tonight’s game. https://t.co/AJLF6EJuTG

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) October 14, 2019

Before leaving the game, Tuitt delivered a hit on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers which caused Rivers to have some attention from the athletic trainers.

On the season, Tuitt has 22 tackles with 3.5 sacks and six quarterback hits coming into Week 6. In his six years with the Steelers, Tuitt has over 200 tackles and 23.5 sacks. Unfortunately, Tuitt has not had a season in which he hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season in 2014.

In Tuitt’s absence, Tyson Alualu was able to deflect a ball which was intercepted by Devin Bush.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, injury reports, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers vs. Chargers: Second-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 8:37pm
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2019 regular season continues with the Steelers and Chargers locking horns in Week 6. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field, and this time for the sixth time in the 2019 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Steelers vs. Chargers, Week 6: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 8:32pm
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

To start the second quarter, the Steelers were able to stop the Chargers’ offense again, and put together one of the best drives of the season after. With a mix of run and pass, the drive showed tough running by Conner and Benny Snell Jr. as the offensive front started to impose their will on the Los Angeles defense. On 3rd down, Hodges hit Conner on a swing route and after making a defender miss, walked into the endzone from 26 yards out. Chris Boswell’s kick was good to make the score 21-0 with 6:34 left in the half.

Rivers started to heat up on the next drive, and was finding Mike Williams early and often to move the Chargers into Pittsburgh territory. But on a second and 9, Rivers was flagged for intentional grounding. After a screen pass to Melvin Gordon was stopped short, it set up a 43-yard field goal attempt by Michael Badgley. But the kick hit the left upright and the Steelers went into halftime holding onto a 21-0 lead.

The Steelers will receive the opening kickoff to start the third quarter.

Steelers vs. Chargers, Week 6: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 8:04pm
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

When the NFL put together their 2019 regular season schedule, they thought Week 6 of Sunday Night Football would have a matchup of 2004 NFL Draft class quarterbacks between Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers. What they got was a 1-4 Steelers team with third string quarterback Devlin Hodges at quarterback against a 2-3 Chargers team.

Nonetheless, the Steelers were playing to keep their season alive, and head into the bye week with some semblance of momentum. The Chargers were looking to re-insert themselves in the AFC West race with a big home win.

The Steelers won the opening coin toss, and elected to defer their possession to the start of the second half, instead sending their defense on the field to hopefully set the table for their offense to have good field position. And after a first down on the first play from scrimmage, the Steelers defense forced an early punt.

After a three-and-out by Hodges and company, the Steelers’ pass rush was all over Rivers from the first snap. On the second snap of the drive Rivers tried dumping the ball off to Melvin Gordon on a swing pass, but the pass went backwards. Devin Bush had the smarts to pick up the ball and run it into the endzone for the early score. Chris Boswell’s point after was good, making the score 7-0 with 10:51 left in the first quarter.

After the turnover, Rivers responded with a strike to Hunter Henry for a first down on the Chargers’ next drive. But his next pass was tipped by Tyson Alualu and intercepted by, none other than Devin Bush.

What happened next was something which hasn’t happened much for the Steelers so far in 2019. That would be the team turned a turnover into a touchdown. The drive was 7 plays in length, but featured all James Conner. Conner converted a 12-yard run for the second touchdown of the quarter. Boswell’s point-after was good, making the score 14-0 with 4:29 left in the first quarter.

It would remain 14-0 to end the quarter.

Steelers vs. Chargers: First-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 7:01pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2019 regular season continues with the Steelers and Chargers locking horns in Week 6. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field, and this time for the sixth time in the 2019 regular season as they prepare to face off against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Isaiah Buggs the only healthy inactive player for Steelers vs. Chargers in Week 6

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 6:08pm
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Six players were already ruled out, so only one player needed to be announced Sunday

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released their inactives against the Los Angeles Chargers. With six players already being ruled out, DE Isaiah Buggs is the lone players to fill out a list.

Inactives for #Steelers tonight vs. Chargers: QB Rudolph, WR James Washington, CB Steven Nelson, ILB Barron, RB Samuels, FB Nix, DE Isaiah Buggs

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) October 13, 2019

There were five Steelers ruled out after practice on Friday with the sixth being added on Saturday. Quarterback Mason Rudolph was ruled out after being limited in practice each day this week after being knocked out in Week 5 with a concussion. Running back Jaylen Samuels was ruled out early in the week, and fullback Roosevelt Nix has been out since Week 1. James Washington’s shoulder injury has him out against the Chargers with the possibility of more time after the bye.

Inside linebacker Mark Barron was unable to practice all week and is it out as well with a hamstring. The late addition on Saturday was when Steven Nelson, who was limited all week with a growing injury, did not make the trip with the team to Los Angeles.

With six players being ruled out, the only player left to fill out the inactive list is DE Isaiah Buggs. The rookie sixth-round pick has been on the roster all season for the Steelers, but has yet to dress for a game.

Getting a helmet for the first time in 2019 is offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor. Chuks dressed for every game in 2018 and saw playing time as an additional blocking tight end. This season, Zach Banner has passed him on the depth chart. It is unclear if Okorafor will even see the field Sunday night.

Another player who has been on and off the inactive list is wide receiver Donte Moncrief. With James Washington being out for the game, Moncrief could see an increased role in the offense in a last-ditch effort to show he is valuable to the 2019 Steelers.

As for the Chargers, their inactives can be seen below. The most notable player who is out is DE Melvin Ingram.

Chargers inactives tonight are QB Easton Stick, DE Cortez Broughton, K Michael Badgley, WR Andre Patton, RB Justin Jackson, S Nasir Adderley and DE Melvin Ingram. Ingram is a big one. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) October 13, 2019

Predicting the winner of Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Week 6

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 4:44pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. Chargers in Week 6 in California.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is on the line. Sure, they still have 10 games on their schedule after their Week 6 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, but if they fall to 1-5 the hole they would have dug for themselves could be too steep to climb out of.

However, if they are able to pull off an upset in Los Angeles, they would head into their Week 7 bye week with some momentum. Momentum which could continue with a Week 8 Monday Night Football matchup with the now winless Miami Dolphins.

Winning this game with Ben Roethlisberger, or even Mason Rudolph, at quarterback might have fans feeling more confident, but the team is now looking at third string quarterback Devlin Hodges to try and get the team their second win of the season.

While the offense might struggle at times, the defense should be more than good enough to put the team in position to win at the end of the game. Entering Week 6, the Steelers were tied for the NFL lead with turnovers (12), and third in sacks (19). They will need both of these plays to give the offense more possessions, and opportunities to win the game.

With all that said, who do I think will win this game? Call me crazy, but I think Hodges is a risk taker, and might be just what the doctor ordered for the Steelers to win this prime time game. The defense should get pressure early and often on Philip Rivers, which could result in turnovers. As long as Hodges, or another offensive player, doesn’t make that costly mistake, I like the Steelers to go on the road and exorcise some west coast demons and beat the Charters 24-20 heading into the bye week.

What is your prediction for the game? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold leading up to kickoff.

Identifying the X-Factors for the Steelers in Week 6 vs. the Chargers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 3:42pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There are several players for the Steelers who could be viewed as ‘X-Factors’ leading up to the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 in California. It is the Steelers’ second trip to the west coast of the season, and hopefully the first of many wins for the 2019 regular season.

When looking at the matchup between AFC North foes, there are players who can be viewed as ‘X-Factors’.

What is an ‘X-Factor’?

I would describe an ‘X-Factor’ as a player who can truly alter the outcome of the game, single-handedly. Not just a plug and play type player, but a player who always has to be accounted for, no matter what.

As a clear-cut example of what an ‘X-Factor’ player would look like, think Troy Polamalu. Polamalu’s skill set made him a force to be reckoned with on every play. So, who are the ‘X-Factors’ for the Steelers Week 6 game vs. Los Angeles?

Let’s take a look...

Offensive X-Factor: Devlin Hodges/Randy Fichtner

Hodges is the easy answer for the offensive X-Factor, but notice it isn’t just Hodges who is listed. In my opinion, how the Steelers’ offensive coordinator handles Hodges and the Steelers’ game plan will be the difference between success and failure. Let Hodges do what he does best, and throw the ball, the Steelers will have a chance. Handcuff Hodges like they did Mason Rudolph in his first two starts and the offense will likely continue to sputter.

Defensive X-Factor: T.J. Watt/Pass Rush

If the Chargers have a glaring weakness on their offense, it is found along their offensive line. Philip Rivers is great at getting the ball out of his hands quickly, but eventually he will try to take a shot downfield, and when he does the Steelers need to do what they have done since 2017 — sack the quarterback. Rivers is as tough as they come, and just getting hits on the quarterback won’t be enough. You have to take him down and force the Chargers into obvious down and distances if you want to win.

Who would be your ‘X-Factor’ for the game? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the upcoming game!

2019 Week 6 Late Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 3:01pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers don’t play until Sunday night, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 6.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t on their bye week, but having all day Sunday without the Steelers certainly feel like it. With the Steelers are slated to play the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 on Sunday Night Football, and the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games throughout the day to see how things shake out.

Some take this day to just relax and get caught up on things outside of football, but if you are like me, you are still watching the full slate of action on Sunday.

With that said, join others like me in the open thread to talk about all of the games going on Sunday. Which game are you watching? Are you someone with NFL Sunday Ticket who has access to all games, or are you stuck watching just one or two games? Let us know, and be sure to keep tabs on all those AFC North games in the process.

As always, remember we are all here for the same reason...

GO STEELERS!

How the Chargers defense will try and stop the Steelers offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 12:16pm
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at how the Los Angeles Chargers defense will try to stop the Steelers’ offense in its tracks.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 of the 2019 regular season. After dropping four of their first five games to start the season, they face a Chargers team who also searching to get back in the win column after a loss to the Broncos in Week 5.

This isn’t a unique matchup for the Steelers. They know their AFC West rivals very well, and lost a game at Heinz Field to Philip Rivers and company in 2018. But there are different faces in the lineup so I wanted to do was to get the lowdown on what the Chargers might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Bolts from the Blue, SB Nation’s Chargers website, editor Richard Wade to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.

In this first of many installments, I asked Richard what he thinks the Chargers defense will do when tasked with stopping the Steelers’ offense. Check out his response:

Well, with the Steelers on their third-string quarterback, one has to expect Gus Bradley will stack the box and dare undrafted free agent rookie Devlin Hodges to beat them. I would anticipate that we will see more base defense from the Chargers than we normally do, and this should play right into the team’s current depth given their multiple injuries in the secondary.

This means we should see a front four of Joey Bosa, Brandon Mebane, Justin Jones, and Uchenna Nwosu backed up by a linebacking corps of Denzel Perryman, Thomas Davis, and Kyzir White. The problem with that course of action is that Perryman and Davis have both been downright lousy this year. Don’t be fooled by raw tackle totals. Their lack of speed and poor angles have resulted in offenses being able to move the ball with ease against them.

If Pittsburgh is able to get their run game going, it will likely be thanks to taking advantage of them. In theory, Casey Hayward and Desmond King should be able to prevent the likes of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson from having big games, but the rest of the secondary is a bit of a mess, and it would not be a surprise to see them break at least one big play thanks to poor safety play.

To be honest, if you thought the Steelers’ offense was a complete crap shoot every time they took the field prior to Week 6, who knows what it will look like with Hodges at the helm. Will Fichtner and company let Hodges sling the rock? Or will it be a similar conservative approach like they did with Mason Rudolph before his injury? Only time will tell what the offense looks like this week.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to keep tabs on BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Chargers in Week 6.

2019 Week 6 Early Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 11:51am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers don’t play until Sunday night, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 6.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t on their bye week, but having all day Sunday without the Steelers certainly feel like it. With the Steelers are slated to play the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 on Sunday Night Football, and the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games throughout the day to see how things shake out.

Some take this day to just relax and get caught up on things outside of football, but if you are like me, you are still watching the full slate of action on Sunday.

With that said, join others like me in the open thread to talk about all of the games going on Sunday. Which game are you watching? Are you someone with NFL Sunday Ticket who has access to all games, or are you stuck watching just one or two games? Let us know, and be sure to keep tabs on all those AFC North games in the process.

As always, remember we are all here for the same reason...

GO STEELERS!

How the Steelers defense will try and stop the Chargers offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 10:30am
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at how the Pittsburgh Steelers defense will try to stop the Chargers’ offense in its tracks.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 of the 2019 regular season. After dropping four of their first five games to start the season, they face a Chargers team who also searching to get back in the win column after a loss to the Broncos in Week 5.

This isn’t a unique matchup for the Steelers. They know their AFC West rivals very well, and lost a game at Heinz Field to Philip Rivers and company in 2018. But there are different faces in the lineup so I wanted to do was to get the lowdown on what the Chargers might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Bolts from the Blue, SB Nation’s Chargers website, editor Richard Wade to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.

In this second installment, I asked Richard what he thinks the Chargers offense will do when tasked with moving the ball on the Steelers’ defense. Check out his response:

The Chargers will probably do the same thing they try to do against everyone else. Even after seeing that Melvin Gordon’s return hurt the flow of the offense, Ken Whisenhunt will no doubt do everything he can to get the former first-round pick going. This will mean wasting plays that could have gone to the superior playmaker, Austin Ekeler.

That said, regardless of who is getting the ball out of the backfield, the offense will endeavor to get them the ball in space. This is actually a strength of Whisenhunt, and one can reasonably expect the Chargers will break at least a few plays for big gains with clever play designs on screens or outside running plays that utilize misdirection.

Beyond the backfield, the Chargers will continue to allow Keenan Allen to do what he does best: beat man coverage. The Cal product is one of the finest route runners I have ever had the pleasure of watching, and he gets open every week no matter who he is lined up against him. That is unlikely to change this week.

The team will also probably waste a handful of plays trying to get Travis Benjamin involved and they will be lucky if those plays result in incompletions and not big losses or turnovers. The biggest mystery, though, is will Hunter Henry be ready to play? They keep hinting that he might, but there is no clear indication either way. If he does, you can expect him to be a key contributor on 3rd down plays and any red-zone opportunities, but he would also likely be limited to some unknown low-ish number of snaps.

Granted, if the offensive line keeps playing as badly as they have for the first 5 weeks, it’s possible none of that will matter and it will just come down to whether or not Philip Rivers can get the ball away before he gets killed.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is turning into the calling card for their team. As the team prepares to trot out there third quarterback of the season in Devlin Hodges, it will be up to the defense to do what they do best — pressure the quarterback and take the football away.

Through 5 games the Steelers rank 3rd in the NFL in sacks (19) and tied for first in takeaways (12). If you want to win on the road with a backup quarterback you have to play awesome defense, and create extra possessions for the offense. This will be paramount, and with the Chargers’ offensive line in shambles, it is a realistic goal to set.

If the Steelers can’t win the battle along the line of scrimmage, it could be a long day, especially with the Chargers looking to throw to whoever Artie Burns is covering on any particular play. This game will be won or lost with the Steelers defense.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to keep tabs on BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Chargers in Week 6.

Stephon Tuitt fined for sideline hit on Lamar Jackson in Week 5

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 9:12am
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Earl Thomas wasn’t the only player fined during the Steelers vs. Ravens Week 5 game at Heinz Field.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base was annoyed and angry when they saw Earl Thomas hit Mason Rudolph knocking him unconscious and out of the game. They wanted him thrown out of the game, but the only thing the NFL did was deliver a 15-yard penalty on the Ravens and fined Thomas $21,056 for the hit.

What came to light Saturday was Thomas wasn’t the only player fined in the Week 5 game. In fact, Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt was fined the same amount as Thomas for his hit on quarterback Lamar Jackson on the sideline that sent him crashing into a league photographer.

This per Jamison Hensley of ESPN:

Here are the fines from Ravens-Steelers from last Sunday:

Ravens S Earl Thomas was fined $21,056 for his hit on Mason Rudolph.

Steelers DL Stephon Tuitt was fined $21,056 for his hit on Lamar Jackson.

— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) October 12, 2019

These were the only two fines levied against players in this AFC North grudge match, but the injuries piled up at Heinz Field for both teams. The Steelers will be without Mason Rudolph for at least Week 6 as he continues to progress through the NFL’s concussion protocol, and the Ravens are without safety Tony Jefferson for the remainder of the year after tearing his ACL in the second half of the game. This is on top of the myriad of players who were dealing with nagging injuries stemming from the game last Sunday.

Neither Tuitt or Thomas were ejected for their hits, but it is safe to say they are certainly a lot lighter in the wallet this week than they would have been otherwise.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football in Week 6.

Bold and Bizarre predictions for Steelers vs. Chargers, Week 6

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 8:06am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Much to the chagrin of most, BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts the Steelers’ West Coast trip vs the Chargers.

Not to insult dumpster fires and train wrecks, but the Steelers are closing in on that distinction in 2019. Many more questions arose after the debilitating loss last week. With that being said, will James Conner ever get it going out of traditional sets? Can the offensive line open up holes for him? Who will star at quarterback and will Randy Fichtner have a game plan suiting his talents? Can JuJu strap this team to his back? Can the defense continue their dominant look from the week before?

With these questions, story lines, and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic, and some utterly idiotic) to look for in this prime time contest:

  • Antonio Brown shows up to the game in full Steelers uniform attempting to join-in on pregame warmups. AB tells NBC’s Michelle Tafoya that just like the 1986 season of Dallas where Bobby Ewing wasn’t killed, he was merely in the shower...2019 was just a dream. It doesn’t work and AB is ushered off of the field.
  • James Conner rushes 12 times for 40 yards on the afternoon. Nobody on the Steelers staff seem concerned about No. 30 and the line.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster scores the only offensive TD and celebrates the score and the birth anniversary of H.J. Heinz by turning long snapper Kam Canaday (No. 57) upside down, hitting him on his number and pretending to pour him on a giant burger.
  • The Steelers struggle with Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon running the ball for nearly 200 yards combined.
  • NBC’s Al Michael’s and Chris Collinsworth make mention of Phillip Rivers 8,000 children at least five times.
  • Collinsworth says something mildly critical of the Steelers and the comment sections go crazy on how much he hates the Steelers.
  • Even though his Jets play at 4:25 against Dallas and figuring that nobody will notice his absence, Le’Veon Bell flies to San Diego to perform his hip-hop version of Super Chargers. Not realizing that the team had relocated to Los Angeles, Bell wonders why the five-star UBER guy wants the equivalent of a week’s pay to get him to the game.
  • Mike Hilton records another interception, while T.J. Watt gets a strip sack and a score.
  • Devlin Hodges plays well enough for conflict to ensue with Mason Rudolph in the short term.
  • The Steelers will lose to the Chargers 33-17 and finding themselves prepping for 2020.

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

Are Steelers fans ready for an increased role for Benny Snell Jr.?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 7:02am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

With Jaylen Samuels injured, Benny Snell is the next man up for the Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to navigate the next month or so without Jaylen Samuels as the primary backup running back behind James Conner. After having his knee scoped after the loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5, Samuels will miss about a month before he is ready to return to the team, in the meantime fans are wondering if it is time to see more of Benny Snell?

You know, Mr. Benny Snell football himself?

The rookie from Kentucky is looking forward to an increased role vs. the Chargers on Sunday Night Football, and possibly moving forward.

“I’m here to fill my role. I will do my best,” Snell, the Steelers’ fourth-round pick, told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I feel like at this point I have been prepared by James and J-Sam; they prepared me.”

Through the team’s first five games, Snell has flashed more on special teams than he has running the football. Snell plays on all four special teams units, kickoff, punt, punt bock and kickoff return units. As a running back he has only carried the ball 6 times for 30 yards, and one of those runs was for 23 yards.

In other words, not a very promising resume for a player who will be granted a golden opportunity to prove he is worth all the third person comments and slogans. Regardless of how well Snell has played so far in 2019, he is till having fun playing the game of football.

“Every day I come to my job, it’s fun every day,” Snell said. “I just come in and do what I love.”

Snell has only had one run over 4 yards, and that is the 23 yard gain he had against the Seahawks in Week 2. Some might say he never had a chance to really get accustomed to the offensive line, and vice versa, but that won’t be the case going forward with Samuels out for the next few games.

One option fans should prepare themselves for is a heavy dose of James Conner, and Snell only being used when absolutely necessary. Think about how the Steelers utilized their backups when Le’Veon Bell was with the team. It doesn’t mean Snell won’t see an increased role, compared to what he was doing prior to Samuels’ injury, but you might want to think twice about picking Snell up on your fantasy team expecting him to get you quality points on Sunday Night Football.

Podcast: Is Duck the X-factor, or is it the Steelers’ game plan for him?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/13/2019 - 6:01am

Devlin Hodges makes his first career start on Sunday Night Football, and what is the biggest factor? His play, or the team’s game plan for him?

Devlin Hodges will make his first career start for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football when the team travels to play the Los Angeles Chargers, and it begs the question what is the biggest factor? Hodges play, or the team’s game plan for him?

This is a tough question, and one where they can be multiple responses/answers to. This is going to be the talking point in the latest podcast.

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and I lay it all out there for the listeners in the latest show...

Check out the show below, and be sure to comment what you think in the comment section below!

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