AFC Divisional Playoff Live Blog: Chargers @ Steelers, 1st Half

This is Darren Sproles at a charity event put on by now-former Charger Donnie Edwards, I believe. (I love using charity event and side business photos here. They’re just, so, out of the element.)

Game: AFC Divisional Playoff #2
Teams: San Diego Chargers (8-8, AFC West Champs) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4, AFC North Champs)
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Start Time: 4:45 PM EST
Announcers and Network: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (CBS)
Miscellany: Norv Face, Big Ben’s offensive protection and his recovery from a concussion, the Chargers’ impossible run after going 8-8, Mighty Mite Darren Sproles, Philip Rivers getting snubbed for the Pro Bowl.
Favorite: Steelers (-6)
S2N’s Pick: Steelers. I find it hard to go against the best defense in the whole damn league.

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Hello, fwends. I’m not your buddy, Nantz. Reed kicks to Darren Sproles, and he’s down at the 25. Grrrr…..douchebag sighting on the field….BASH HIS FAT FACE IN PLEASE JAMES HARRISON.

(hate subsiding a little.)

Rivers to Antonio Gates with plenty of room, 21 yards on the first play. Screen out to Sproles on the right side, and he gets another first down across midfield by slipping two tacklers. Rivers airs out a floater to the end zone…and Vincent Jackson comes down with a 41 yard catch over Ike Taylor. Touchdown, Bolts! Nate Kaeding’s kick is good, 7-0, Bolts.

Jackson gets an unsportsmanlike penalty for his TD celebration, which I don’t believe we actually got a shot of. Steelers start at the 42, running play with Willie Parker, and he busts through the line for a first down and into Chargers’ territory. Parker gets another three yards. Parker again, up the gut and past the marker, tackled by Clinton Hart. So far, we have seen no five-wide formations — which is Bruce Arians trying to get cute. Screen out to Hines Ward for a couple yards, but Santonio Holmes gets flagged for holding. Ben throws to Ward again — Quentin Jammer knocks it away as Ward tries to hold on.

Ben to TE Heath Miller for 11 yards. Next couple plays are incomplete and short, 4th down. They go for it….wait, Ben quick-kicks it and it’s down inside the 15. First Cassel pulls this, now Roethlisberger. Start at the 9, Sproles gets 3 yards on the first carry of the series. Mighty Mouse gets two more.

The QB punt will be next season’s Wildcat formation. Mark my words. – Deven

Mike Scifres punts and Santonio Holmes BUSTS IT OUT AND TAKES IT TO THE HOUSE! 68 yards for Holmes! Woo! Reed’s XP is good, 7-7 all.

Spoke too soon. Santonio EXPOSES the Chargers punt coverage team. He seems to be good at doing that, exposing things… – PricelessCommentary
Best tackle on that punt return was by cameraman. – JG
I think Nantz jinxed the hell out of Scifres. – Zidane Valor

Nantz owes the punter a Coke. Sproles’ kick return to the 36, and Michael Bennett gets his first rush of the year. Face mask on fullback Jacob Hester — going back some more! Rivers hits Chambers for his first reception of the game. Checkdown pass to Bennett for a few yards. 3rd down converted for nine yards to Antonio Gates. False start, back ‘em up to first and 15. Sproles gets three of those back. Rush on for 2nd down, and Lamar Woodley takes Rivers down for the first sack of the game and a real 3rd and long.

Delay of game on top of that, and it’s first sighting of Norv Face. He’s not wearing glasses this week, sadly. 3rd and 25. Sproles only gets back to the line of scrimmage.

Fuck…Nantz just pulled a Vasgersian. Outyardaged. – Anon @ 5:11

Can we set up an electro-shocker for commentators who make up words like that? Steelers start at the 25 after the punt. Parker gets a couple yards. Deep ball for Nate Washington, who gets tangled up with Jammer. Yinzers are booing like mad for a PI flag (which shouldn’t be thrown.) 3rd and nine — and down goes Big Ben, sacked for the first time.

Mitch Berger punts it 49 yards. “I’m glad he didn’t change his name today.” – Phil, and there’s a block in the back on the Bolts.

An Axe-manufactured hair crisis. One of the many companies who believe men are fundamentally morons (the top offender is usually the beer companies, especially the ones who sell cheap piss-water.)

Sproles grabs another first down on a 2nd and 2, followed by a quarter change and a one-yard carry for Mighty Mouse. Gates gets eight on the reception, following a shot of a guy with enough chains and beads to be mistaken for a Baltimore Ravens fan. 3rd down fails, and Scifres to punt again. Another delay of game call on the Chargers….wait, and Norv just made his first dumb decision of the day by challenging the spot.

THAT’s the incompetent Norv I know. – SSR
Apparently Norv didn’t see Coughlin screw this same thing up earlier today. – Mal
Norv Turner channeling his inner Andy Reid with that challenge. – Ghost

Ah, that’s the regression to the mean Peter Principle that we know and love in Norv. And of course he loses the challenge. Fair catch on the punt by Mewelde Moore at the 17.

Parker scoops up another first down on the ground. Fast Willie up the middle for another six, he then fights for another chain movement. Moore goes for four yards; then Parker’s back for two. 3rd and 3 will become 3rd and 8 after a false start. Big Ben goes to the fullback, but Eric Weddle tackles Cary Davis short of the first. Chargers call time out on 4th down, after the Steelers try to rush them by going for it quickly.

Berger’s punt rolls into the end zone. Ike Taylor nearly takes away Rivers’ pass for Chambers on first down. Rivers throws the ball away on 2nd down. Rivers hurls another high floater — and Vincent Jackson lays out and makes the catch….uh-oh, that looked like it bounced. Here comes Tomlin’s challenge flag!

“They have to give the defense time to align after the substitution.” – Phil

They do? Then how did Indy get away with that quick pass a couple weeks ago? Why was the official holding up that play?

I don’t understand…. – Anon @ 5:40

I’m kind of confused too, except to say that there’s a difference between that play and changing for a punt formation. Peyton caught them during an offensive play; it wasn’t a 4th down play.

And that reception is no more, as it’s overturned. Scifres to punt again, and Big Swinging Dick John…err….Santonio Holmes is back to receive. He fair catches this one. Holmes for three, then a pass for five to Nate Washington. 3rd down means another short out to the fullback, and Davis gets up-ended by Jammer short of the line. Fake punt, snapped to Ryan Clark, and the Bolts have it stopped.

Sproles is brought down by Woodley and James Harrison on first down in Steeler territory. Legadu Naane trips on his route, and the pass falls to the ground. Rivers finds Gates over the middle again and he’s got 15 yards and a first down. Sproles gets knocked in the backfield again. Anotiher screen pass to Sproles — and Woodley plows him over. Another pass to Gates and it’s short of the first. Kaeding will try an FG after the break.

42 yards, up, and good. 10-7, Chargers. Gary Russell takes the kickoff back to the 32. Ben to Holmes, then Moore, and the ball’s in Chargers’ territory. Ben then throws wide of Heath Miller. Gary Russell smashes in for a third down conversion. Ben overthrows Holmes completely. A little lighter touch and Holmes would have had a first and goal. Pass to Miller for a first, but there’s a flag down for illegal formation.

Ben goes deep again and finds Hines Ward at the 10, who then runs out of bounds at the 3 yard line. First and goal, Steelers! Sweep left to Parker…..TOUCHDOWN, STEELERS! Reed’s XP is good, 14-10, Pittsburgh.

Antonio Cromartie returns the kickoff and almost breaks loose. Start at the 30, Sproles gets nothing, and that will end the half. See you in the next thread post-halftime.

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