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Steelers-Chargers halftime notes

1/11/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the San Diego Chargers, 14-10, after two quarters at Heinz Field.

Here are some first-half observations:

  • The pace of this game has been odd so far, which sometimes happens when you have two teams with very different styles. The up-tempo Chargers started very fast and began airing it out early in the first quarter. Then the plodding Steelers began controlling the pace by running the ball and fighting for field position in the second quarter. Whichever team continues to control the pace likely will prevail in the second half.

  • The Steelers aren't having many problems bottling up Chargers tailback Darren Sproles, who is coming off a monster game in the wild-card win over the Indianapolis Colts. He is being battered nearly every time he touches the ball and has just 15 rushing yards on 11 attempts. He is replacing the injured LaDainian Tomlinson (groin) in this game.

  • The decision for Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin to call a fake punt at midfield in the second quarter was a bad one. The Steelers were playing (and winning) the field-position battle all period and gave the Chargers unnecessary momentum. The failed fake led to San Diego's 42-yard field goal in the final two minutes that gave the Chargers a 10-7 lead.

  • Pittsburgh set a few franchise marks in the first half. Receiver Santonio Holmes' 67-yard punt return in the first quarter was the longest in Steelers' postseason history. Teammate Hines Ward also has caught a pass in 12 straight postseason games, which is Pittsburgh's third-longest streak. Ward jumped to second in Steelers history with 938 playoff reception yards.