News

Print
RSS

Chiefs vs. Steelers: 10 Observations

Posted Oct 16, 2017

Here’s what stood out Sunday afternoon against the Steelers

The Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) dropped their first game of the season Sunday afternoon with their 19-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2).

Here are 10 observations from the game:

1. Despite struggles, the Chiefs still had a chance to win

Trailing 19-13 with just 1:42 left in the game, the Chiefs’ offense took over at their own 44-yard line after a nice 32-yard punt return from Tyreek Hill.

At the end of the return, Hill took a big hit along the sideline and didn’t return to the game as he was being evaluated for a concussion.

At that point, the Chiefs’ offense had De’Anthony Thomas, Demarcus Robinson and Marcus Kemp as the three receivers on the field for the final drive.

Robinson started in place of fourth-year player Albert Wilson, who was declared inactive before the game as he was dealing with a knee injury, and with Chris Conley’s season-ending injury last week—combined with Hill’s absence, there were a lot of new faces on the field for quarterback Alex Smith in crunch time.

Smith would hit Robinson for a 16-yard gain on the second play of the drive, but that’s as far as the Chiefs would go on the drive.

After a third-down sack from James Harrison forced a fourth-and-18 attempt, the final pass from Smith fell incomplete in the middle of the field with 52 seconds left in the game.

Smith finished 19 of 34 for 246 yards and a touchdown.

Considering the struggles the Chiefs had to begin the game, particularly offensively, the fact that they still had a chance late could be seen as a positive.

2. Chiefs’ first half looked one way with yards, but another with points

The Chiefs struggled on both sides of the ball in the first half—finishing with just six yards of total offense and allowing the Steelers to pick up 242—led by running back Le’Veon Bell’s 17 carries for 99 yards.

One of the key plays was an errant shotgun snap from center Zach Fulton to Smith on second-and-17 from the Chiefs’ own 9-yard line. The ball went over Smith’s head and out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

Those numbers aside, the Chiefs only trailed 12-3 after the first 30 minutes because they held the Steelers to 1 of 2 inside the red zone and forced a turnover.

3. Marcus Peters gets his second interception of the season

The NFL’s leader in interceptions over the past three seasons had another one Sunday afternoon as cornerback Marcus Peters picked-off Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a third-and-5 play early in the second quarter.

At the time, the Chiefs were trailing 9-3 and it looked as if the Steelers were going to drive again as they had already gotten to midfield after three plays totaled 25 yards, but Peters was able to get his hands underneath an errant pass before it hit the ground, pop up and return it 16 yards.

It was Peters’ 16th interception of his career, which is the most for any player since he entered the league as the team’s first-round pick (No. 18 overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft. 

4. Bell had a day for the Steelers’ offense

It wasn’t a big surprise that the Steelers leaned on their All-Pro running back Sunday afternoon. Bell has been a workhorse for them and has had some big games against the Chiefs in the past, and he became just the second player over the last decade to rush for at least 175 yards against the Chiefs’ defense.

Bell finished Sunday’s game with 32 carries for 179 yards and a touchdown.

5. Kareem Hunt provides spark for Chiefs’ offense late, sets NFL record in process

One of the players who provided a spark for the Chiefs’ offense when they really needed it was rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who became the first player in NFL history to have at least 100 yards from scrimmage in the first six games of their career.

Hunt finished with nine carries for 21 yards, but had five receptions for 89 yards as well.

Hunt’s stiff arm on Steelers’ linebacker Vince Williams on a pass across the middle from Smith on second-and-12 late in the third quarter seemed to get things going for the Chiefs.

At the time, the Chiefs only had 33 yards of total offense, and then they’d go on to pick up 218 yards of offense on the final 27 plays after Hunt’s stiff arm.

The particular play went for 19 yards, and just three plays later on third down, Smith would find Hunt again after some nifty footwork in the pocket from Smith, who had to avoid some pressure.

Smith got the ball out to Hunt, who raced down the right sideline and got a phenomenal block from Robinson down the field to pick up 37 yards on the final play of the third quarter.

There was also a roughing the quarterback penalty called on Steelers’ safety Mike Mitchell on the play as he went low on Smith after the throw, and that tacked on some additional yardage.

6. Hunt’s big plays got Chiefs into red zone, but they’d come up short

After struggling to move the ball for most of the game, the Chiefs finally got inside the red zone after Hunt’s chunk plays and eventually faced a fourth-and-2 from the Steelers’ 4-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid decided to go for it on fourth down, and Smith’s pass intended for tight end Demetrius Harris fell incomplete.

After the game, Reid spoke about his thought process on the situation.

“So, there was a little over 12 minutes almost 13 minutes left to go, and we hadn’t been down there or done much throughout the afternoon,” Reid said. “We had an opportunity to get down there, potentially score, and we felt like we had a couple plays that we felt really good about.

“We called one of them and it didn’t work out. Hindsight would have been wish we would have kicked (the field goal), but at the time, I felt pretty strong that we would make sure we completed (the pass).”

7. De’Anthony Thomas gets the Chiefs into the end zone

Midway through the fourth quarter and with the Chiefs facing a second-and-10 from midfield, Smith escaped some pressure and found Thomas, who initially ran a simple little route in the flat from the slot but broke it off down the field after Smith began scrambling, deep down the left sideline.

As he was running to his left, Smith dropped it over the defender to Thomas, who caught the pass made some nice open-field moves and raced 57 yards for the touchdown.

It was the longest offensive play of Thomas’ career, and gave the Chiefs a chance late in the game, but the Steelers would quickly answer back. 

On the Steelers’ ensuing drive, the Chiefs’ defense had forced a third-and-2 attempt from midfield and Roethlisberger attempted a throw towards the NFL’s leading receiver in Antonio Brown, who began the play from the slot and ran a little wheel route down the left sideline.

With cornerback Phillip Gaines in good position on the inside of Brown, the 50-50 ball was deflected as Gaines attempted to turn and make a play. It went up into the air and into the hands of Brown, who then raced 51 yards for the touchdown, which gave the Steelers a 19-10 lead with less than four minutes to go in the game.

Brown finished with eight receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown.

8. Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt helped Chiefs have a chance

Butker, who already has a game-winner on his resume just three games into his NFL career, is now 5 of 5 on field goals in the fourth quarter. He had a 43-yarder with less than a minute remaining in his NFL debut against the Redskins three weeks ago, which broke a 20-20 tie.

On Sunday, Butker connected on both of his field goal attempts (46, 33) on the day, including a 33-yarder with a little more than two minutes left in the game, which brought the game to within one possession at 19-13.

The punt coverage units did a pretty good job as well.

Colquitt punted four times Sunday afternoon for an average of 47.5 yards, including three punts that were downed inside the Steelers’ 20-yard line. He also had a key play on a free kick in the first quarter.

On the ensuing free kick after the safety in the first quarter, Colquitt punted the ball and the Steelers actually let it bounce on the ground, which gave Chiefs’ rookie receiver Jehu Chesson a chance to hop on the ball for a recovery.

It was a nice hustle play from Chesson, which led to the Chiefs’ 46-yard field goal from Butker. It was the only time the Chiefs would get past the Steelers’ 44-yard line in the first half.

9. Second-year safety Eric Murray had a key pass breakup

After the Chiefs were able to get a 33-yard field goal from Butker with a little more than two minutes left in the game to bring the score to within one possession at 19-13, the Chiefs’ defense still had to stop the Steelers to give the offense a chance to win the game, and the Chiefs had all three of their timeouts left at this point.

On first down, veteran defensive lineman Allen Bailey tackled Bell for a loss of two yards, and the Chiefs used their first timeout with 2:15 left in the game.

Then on second down, Bell was tackled by safety Daniel Sorensen after a gain of just four yards—then the Chiefs used their second timeout with 2:10 left in the game.

On third down, the Steelers lined up Bell in the slot and wanted to get him the ball. Murray was in man-to-man coverage with one of the league’s most versatile and dynamic players.

Roethlisberger had plenty of time to let Bell’s route develop across the middle of the field and as the ball was headed towards Bell, Murray reached his left hand out and was able to knock down the pass with perfect coverage.

It was the biggest defensive play of Murray’s season to this point.

10. Dee Ford returns to the field, picks up a sack

Fourth-year outside linebacker Dee Ford missed the last two games against the Redskins and Texans after suffering a back injury against the Los Angeles Chargers.

And it didn’t take long for Ford to make an impact as he sacked Roethlisberger on the Steelers’ first offensive drive, taking him down on a key third-and-3 play.

The loss of seven yards on the sack pushed the Steelers out of field goal range—moving from the 34-yard line to the 41.

^ TOP ^


FAN COMMENTS