Chiefs vs. Steelers: 12 Observations

Here are 12 things that stood out from the Chiefs game on Sunday

1. Chiefs veteran leaders step up on defense

Coming into Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Kansas City Chiefs were going up against a team that had a plus-6 giveaway-takeaway ratio over their past three games, which had resulted in 28 points and helped them pick up two big wins.

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But on Sunday it was the Chiefs who won the turnover battle, forcing three Steelers turnovers and not giving it over once to the Steelers defense, which is defined by the zone pressure they love to bring.

The three players responsible for those turnovers also happen to be three of their leaders on the defensive side of the ball—linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali and safety Eric Berry.

Johnson and Berry grabbed interceptions while Hali forced a fumble.

When they needed their leaders to make plays, they came through.

2. Chris Conley and Albert Wilson stepped up when needed

Before the game, veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin was ruled inactive because of the concussion he suffered last week against the Minnesota Vikings.

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In his absence, the Chiefs needed a couple of young players to step up and that's exactly what they did.

Wilson, the undrafted free agent out of Georgia State, finished with 3 catches for 71 yards, including a clutch 40-yarder in which almost all of the yardage came after the catch.

Conley, one of the Chiefs third-round picks from last May's draft out of Georgia, had the best game of his career as he finished with 6 catches for 63 yards, including the first touchdown of his career—a clutch 6-yarder with a little more than 5 minutes remaining in the game.

At the time, the Chiefs led 16-13, but Conley's score put the game out of reach for the Steelers and solidified the victory.

3. New faces along the offensive line

Veteran Jeff Allen made his first start of the season on Sunday at right tackle.

He had been dealing with a knee issue since before the season began and his presence helped keep Alex Smith clean for the most part. He also helped Charcandrick West run for more than 100 yards on the ground.

Eric Fisher moved back over to left tackle and Larry Duvernay-Tardif re-joined the starting lineup at right guard.

It was three new faces in new places on Sunday and the combination helped the Chiefs pick up their second win of the season.

4. Tight end Travis Kelce keeps picking up chunk plays

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Travis Kelce had 5 catches for 73 yards on Sunday against the Steelers, and 4 of those resulted in 14 or more yards.

The Chiefs did a great job of getting him the ball in big-time situations.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game came midway through the fourth quarter with the Chiefs facing a third-and-4 from their own 22-yard line.

The Chiefs were leading 16-13 at the time.

Smith threw a beautiful ball over the middle of the field to Kelce, who was running up the seam and leaped up to make the catch and pick up the first down for 26 yards.

It led to the Conley 6-yard touchdown that sealed the win.

Big time play.

5. Dee Ford helps make one of the key stops in the game

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With the Chiefs holding a 6-3 lead late in the first half, the Steelers were facing a fourth-and-short from the 32-yard line of the Chiefs.

The Steelers decided to go for it and not attempt a game-tying field goal with 4:50 left to go in the first half.

On the fourth-down run, Dee Ford and company bottled up Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams to give the ball back to the Chiefs with the 6-3 lead.

Looking back, that was one of the key moments in the game.

6. Albert Wilson's 40-yard reception was all effort

On the ensuing drive after that fourth-down stuff, Wilson took a short pass from Smith on first-and-10 from midfield and went 40 yards down the left sideline to set up Cairo Santos' third field goal of the first half.

Wilson fought off three attempted tackles by Steelers defenders, even throwing in a spin move for good measure on that play.

It was exactly the kind of chunk play the Chiefs needed at the time and Wilson delivered.

7. Charcandrick West has a career game

It was the best game of Charcandrick West's young career.

He finished with 22 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown—the first of his career.

After the game inside the locker room, West said Jamaal Charles had already sent him a congratulatory message.

It was an unbelievable performance from West that was sorely needed from a Chiefs running game that has been looking for answers since Charles' injury.

8. Best moment of the game—Eric Berry's interception

On a day full of impressive performances, there probably wasn't a better single moment for those in attendance than when safety Eric Berry caught a deflected pass from quarterback Landry Jones and returned it 15 yards to the Chiefs 47-yard line.

The play set up West's 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Chiefs a two-possession lead at 16-3 with a little more than 4 minutes left in the third quarter, but it was the context of what it was a culmination of that made it so great.

Berry's story has been well-documented.

He's overcome a battle with cancer and this was his first interception since overcoming that challenge. After the game, Berry said it was just about stepping up when he was needed.

"Anytime you have an opportunity to make a play, you've got to make it."

Photos from the Chiefs week seven matchup against the Steelers

9. The American League Champion Kansas City Royals were honored before the game

Before the game, Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt spent some time talking with a handful of the Royals players and coaches.

The Royals are set to take on the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series beginning on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.

10. Sean Smith's effort negated a probable Le'Veon Bell touchdown in crucial situation

On first-and-10 from midfield early in the fourth quarter while trailing 16-10, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell took the handoff and bounced the play to the outside and up the left sideline.

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Cornerback Sean Smith, who had an early shot at Bell and wasn't able to bring him down, hustled all the way down the left sideline to drag Bell down after a gain of 42 yards.

It looked like he was gone and the touchdown was imminent, but Smith had other plans—hustling from behind to bring Bell down.

After the game, Smith said he just wanted to show off his speed as "the biggest corner on the team," to which Justin Houston standing nearby let him know he respected the speed he showed on the play, chasing Bell down from behind and not necessarily coming at him from an angle.

It was all smiles and laughs in the locker room after the game.

11. Tamba Hali's 2 sacks couldn't have come at a better time

He's one of the best pass rushers in franchise history, and Hali proved it once again on Sunday.

His two sacks of Steelers quarterback Landry Jones came at the most crucial times of the game, both of them came in the fourth quarter.

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Hali's first sack came on third-and-7 with 10:59 remaining in the game with the Steelers driving at the Chiefs 10-yard line. After the 8-yard loss, the Steelers were forced to kick the field goal and make it 16-13.

The second came right before the two-minute warning with the Steelers attempting a late comeback, but Hali had other plans.

Hali fought past the left tackle and forced the strip-sack of Jones, and the ball was recovered by defensive lineman Jaye Howard.

Hali now has 82.5 career sacks and is just 4.5 shy of passing former great Neil Smith for second on the all-time list for the Chiefs.

12. Chiefs offense finds success on third down

The Chiefs were 9 for 16 (56 percent) on third downs against the Steelers, marking the best performance of the season for third-down conversions. The defense held the Steelers to just 2 of 10 (20 percent) on third down, the lowest percentage by an opponent this season.

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