Bolts closing in on 1st losing year under Turner

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Associated Press

Posted on December 3, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 3 at 6:06 PM

SAN DIEGO (AP) — 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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