Bolts closing in on 1st losing year under Turner

With a quarter of the season still to play, everything is

pointing toward the free-falling San Diego Chargers having their

first losing record in Norv Turner’s six years as head coach.

All but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the

third straight season, odds are pretty good the Chargers (4-8) will

clinch a losing record Sunday. They play at Pittsburgh, where

they’re 0-14 in regular-season games, and the Steelers (7-5) have

beaten both the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Plus, the

Chargers have yet to beat a team with a winning record this

season.

The Chargers are coming off home losses to the Ravens and

Bengals in which they blew fourth-quarter leads.

They can’t run the ball and Philip Rivers had two more crucial

turnovers in Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the Bengals.

Their offensive line, which couldn’t protect Rivers even before

a rash of injuries, is certain to have even more upheaval this

week.

The Chargers were shut out in the second half on Sunday after

taking a 13-10 halftime lead. They didn’t score an offensive

touchdown for the third time this season as they lost their fourth

straight game and for the seventh time in eight games.

Now they have to face the Steelers, who, playing for the third

week without Ben Roethlisberger, won 23-20 at AFC North-leading

Baltimore on Sunday behind 37-year-old Charlie Batch. The Steelers

are tied with the Bengals for the second AFC wild-card berth.

They’re two games behind the Ravens.

The Steelers have won the last three games against the Chargers,

including a 38-28 playoff victory following the 2008 season.

The Chargers’ only wins in Pittsburgh have been in the playoffs,

a wild-card win after the 1982 season and their AFC championship

game upset after the 1994 season that propelled them to their only

Super Bowl.

Three-quarters of the way into the season, the Chargers still

can’t play a complete game. And they can’t explain why they

can’t.

The Bengals went ahead on Andy Dalton’s 6-yard scamper up the

middle with 4:11 left Sunday, and San Diego’s final two drives

ended with turnovers by Rivers. The week before, they let Ray Rice

convert on a fourth-and-29 dump-off pass and the Ravens won in

overtime.

”It’s not so much the fourth quarter,” the embattled Turner

said Monday. ”It stands out because it is the fourth quarter, but

we have not been able to move the ball consistently in any quarter.

And when we can make some plays we’re able to move the ball.

Sometimes you’re able to scheme them, sometimes guys make plays.

We’ve had too many negative plays that keep us from being a

consistent team. It’s not one guy.”

Safety Corey Lynch, who had an interception against the Bengals,

was asked why the Chargers have trouble finishing.

”Every week I kind of ask myself that same question and there’s

just no words. I don’t have an answer for that. It’s been

disappointing for all players, who I feel like when I’m on the

sideline watching the game, everyone’s giving 100 percent. I feel

like when I’m in the game, playing the game, all my teammates are

giving 100 percent. So, on Monday, I don’t have an answer.”

Turner has had some revealing comments recently that seem to sum

up the state of the Bolts’ roster.

A week ago, Turner acknowledged the Chargers were outmanned by

the Ravens in a number of areas.

After the loss to the Bengals, he said: ”I think there are a

lot of guys that are playing about as good as they can play right

now.”

On Monday, he said: ”I think we’ve played two really good

football teams and I think we stood there toe-to-toe with them, and

we’ve just come up short.”

The Steelers’ defense provides a contrast to San Diego’s lack of

consistency.

Although Steelers stars Troy Polamalu and James Harrison have

missed time this season, the Steelers lead the NFL in overall

defense.

”I tell you one thing, when we put their depth chart up on the

wall, we played them in 2008, and I think nine of the same guys are

starting,” Turner said. ”So you have great consistency in terms

of through the years, they all know what each other’s doing. The

guys they have backing those guys up are young players that I think

are talented guys that have filled in when they need to fill in for

a guy. When you’re filling in for one guy, I think we all know you

have to do that through a season, that you’re not going to have all

11 starters for every game. But they have a great scheme, they’re

certainly well-coached, they know what each other’s doing, they

know what each other’s responsibility is and they execute it at a

real high level.”

The Chargers will face that defense with an offensive line that

could be without right tackle Jeromey Clary, left tackle Mike

Harris and left guard Tyronne Green due to injuries.

”If we’re in there with three new starting offensive linemen,

guys that I haven’t met yet, and we’re playing the Steelers in

Pittsburgh, it will be a challenge,” Turner said.

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