The Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting in an uncomfortable position. They are coming off a soul-crushing tie, badly injured, and have to travel across the country for Sunday Night Football. It really is a recipe for the Steelers doom in the City of Angels. Mix in a high-powered Chargers offense led by phenom Justin Herbert and there is the potential for the Steelers to be embarrassed on national television. To stop this from happening and for a chance at victory, the Steelers must turn this into an ugly game. The Steelers must run the ball, keep the clock moving, and play rough defensively to do whatever it takes to keep the Chargers from doing laps of So-Fi Stadium.
The Steelers offense could be without Ben Roethlisberger, Chase Claypool, Kevin Dotson, and Trai Turner. Both the air and ground attack will suffer greatly from these losses. The Steelers will struggle to both throw the ball deep down the field and creating running lanes will be an even bigger issue than what is typically is. Najee Harris is going to have to be special on Sunday night if the Steelers are going to do anything on the field and produce any points. This is going to be one of those games where the offense needs to take 8 minutes on the clock on virtually every drive they have. So being able to make first downs is paramount. The problem is it won't be that easy with all the missing bodies.
On defense, one could argue the injury situation is even worse. The Steelers could be without T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Joe Haden. Looking at this unit without these guys and I am laughing if I am the Chargers offensive coordinator. The Steelers’ warts typically get overshadowed by the talents of the above three names. But without them, the Steelers only have more holes that can be attacked. The Steelers need to play a rough and nasty game and pray they don't get torched over the top. Beating up Herbert in the backfield and making him second guess his decisions is the only chance they have, so dial up the blitz and hope for the best.
I would never bet against Mike Tomlin to craft up a game plan when he is seemingly in an un-winnable situation. The Steelers bench boss thrives in these situations, so I am sure the Steelers will be up for the challenge. But with that being said, this has all the earmarks of a route. Forcing the Chargers to play down to the Steelers level is the only chance, and if not this could be the ugliest game in some time.
But what do you think? Will the Steelers be able to control the clock and the football? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.