Pittsburgh Steelers: Failure To Show Vs. KC Chiefs


In losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 23-13 last Sunday, it was thought that this would be a game for the taking by the Pittsburgh Steelers. But throughout the game, it appeared that Pittsburgh’s defense was sluggish, dragging their feet and only making an occasional big play here and there.

For Landry Jones, making his first NFL start in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger, there were some mistakes, namely two interceptions, but overall, Jones did not play that badly. Despite not being able to get the offense to score touchdowns in the red zone, of the two picks thrown, one was certainly the fault of the backup quarterback. On the other interception, Antonio Brown tried to make a second effort on bringing the ball in and instead, subsequently tipped it into the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense.

It seems every week for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is one player from an opposing team that Pittsburgh simply has trouble with. It was Rob Gronkowski in week one. Antonio Gates wreaked havoc a few weeks back. Last Sunday, Travis Kelce gave the Steelers’ defense all kinds of fits. In the end, Kelce accounted for five receptions and 73 yards but the damage seemed much worse as he caught passes at the most inopportune time.

Then there was Pittsburgh’s inability to stop the run. With no Jamaal Charles to contend with, the Chiefs instead ran little known Charcandrick West down the Steelers’ throats and he ended up with 110 yards and a hefty five yards-per-carry including a 36-yard run.

On defense, Pittsburgh seemed uninspired and made many mistackles and was on the field much too long. In fact, Kansas City led the time of possession battle 32:26 to Pittsburgh’s 27:34. As the Steelers could only convert two out of 10 third downs, to the contrary, the Chiefs converted over 50% on nine of 16 successful tries.

Not quite a career day for Landry Jones, his quarterback rating at just 60.8, but he did pass for 209 yards on 16 completions. Jones was certainly not the reason for the loss as the defense will have to shoulder that blame. Put some onus on the head of coach Mike Tomlin as well as his team just did not seem to be prepared for this one that should have been a victory if exectution was the order of the day.

Le’Veon Bell? Another 121 yards in the books on just 17 carries, overshadowing Charcandrick’s 5.0 mark per-carry with a 7.1 stat of his own. It helped that on one rush, Bell rumbled 42 yards.

In the air, Antonio Brown made that one mistake but was the leading receiver with six receptions and 124 yards which saw him haul in a 41-yarder. Martavis Bryant in his second game back for the season caught three for 45 yards. Markus Wheaton was the recipient of two more for 16 yards. Where was Heath Miller? Not catching balls. Not one. Not good.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

This has happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers many times before. They play down to an opponent. The Kansas City Chiefs were riding a five game losing streak. They were without Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin. Pittsburgh had won two in a row and had a chance to inch closer to the front-running Cincinnati Bengals. But they failed to execute on both sides of the ball and could not stop the Chiefs’ replacement players.

Now with a record of 4-3, next Sunday’s showdown with the Bengals looms extremely large. In fact, it’s not too soon to label this one a MUST WIN. If the Steelers fail to defeat Cincinnati next weekend, the Bengals would move to 7-0 and the Steelers would sit in second place at 4-4. Three games behind the division leaders with eight games to play including a rematch in Cincinnati would make it nearly impossible for the Pittsburgh Steelers to repeat as AFC North Division champions unless the Bengals pull a collapse and the Steelers can win the majority of the remaining games.

Normally, a record of 9-7 might get a team into the post-season and 10-6 is  a better guarantee. With that said, to finish with nine wins, the Steelers will have to win five of the final nine. To reach ten means six for the remainder of the season. Losing to the Bengals makes it vital that Pittsburgh would have to finish 5-3 over the second half of the season or 6-2 to reach 10 wins.

All that makes Sunday’s game approaching a MUST WIN. Ben Roethlisberger was ready to play in Kansas City, so now the question remains, does Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley push him forward and risk Big Ben messing up his knee again in anticipation they might be in the playoffs?

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