In 2008, the Chargers were 0-2 against the Steelers. In the regular season last year, the Chargers lost a tight one by the score of 11-10, a game that was really no where near as close as that score indicated. After the Chargers were lucky enough to make it into the postseason, they took an early lead against the Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs but couldn't keep their offense in check, losing 35-24. In case you missed it, the Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl.
So how are the Bolts going to do against the Steelers on Sunday night? I am a big believer that you can learn a lot from history, and history tells us a lot about these important factors for the Chargers-Steelers rematch:
- The Chargers can throw against the Steelers. In last years playoff loss, Philip Rivers threw for over 300-yards, and that was against a defense that still featured Troy Polamalu.
- The Chargers struggles running the ball hurt them last year, and their current struggles aren't going to help this situation at all (the Steelers are giving up 76-yards rushing per game, and even that would be an improvement for the Bolts). They have to find some running room for LT and Darren Sproles.
- Injuries played a key role in last years' playoff game, and will once again have a huge effect on Sunday night's game. Last year it was LT and Shawne Merriman out for the Bolts, this year it is Willie Parker and Polamalu, both important pieces to the Steeler offense and defense, and both out with injuries this weekend.
- The biggest piece of history that everyone will be talking about is the Chargers record in Pittsburgh, where they have never won a regular season game. And for as much lip service as this fact is going to get, I couldn't care less about anyone's regular season record anywhere. In reality, the Chargers are getting the Steelers at the best possible time, before the weather turns wicked, and while the Steelers are having problems of their own.
So really it comes down to two teams with issues, both struggling to avoid mediocre (or even disappointing) starts this season. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the Chargers ability to win this game is entirely in their hands. Turn those engines up a notch and eliminate the mental mistakes and stupid penalties, and they can win this game in Pittsburgh.