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Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Company Show They Still Got It Against Steelers

The Chiefs defense forced three turnovers on Sunday

Over the years, we've come to expect big-time plays from guys like Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry and Sean Smith.

They're among the best in the game at their respective positions and they've built careers upon making the kind of plays we remember.

They once again showed us on Sunday why that's the case.

Johnson and Berry had key interceptions, Hali had two sacks in crucial situations and Smith's effort to bring down Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell late in the game may be one of the most underrated plays of the entire game.

Johnson, whose late first-half interception off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones made sure the Chiefs went to halftime with the lead, spoke after the game about what he saw on that particular play.

"You have Tamba Hali and Justin Houston coming on the outside so [Landry Jones] was definitely going to try to fit it in there," Johnson explained. "I made sure I did my job and stayed in my zone. I was looking at him like, 'I know he's not going to throw it.'

"He threw it and I'm like, 'Okay, I still have a little vertical left in these 32-year-old legs.'

"I jumped up and it was a great interception, but I was just making sure I caught the ball first."

Johnson finished the game with 4 tackles, 2 passes defensed and the 1 interception.


His fellow linebacker, veteran Tamba Hali, has already established himself as one of the best pass rushers in Chiefs history, and he added two more sacks to his total on Sunday.

Hali currently ranks third all-time in franchise history with 82.5 sacks.

Both of Hali's sacks on Sunday came in the fourth quarter.

His first was on third-and-7 with the Steelers just 10 yards away from tying the game. He shot through and brought Jones down for a loss of 8 yards, which forced the Steelers to kick the field goal and helped preserve the 16-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

"They were scheming Justin Houston," Johnson explained of Hali's opportunity. "He's the best rusher in the league so they schemed him all game, put two people on him and kept leaving Tamba Hali one on one most of the time.

"We were on the sideline saying they were scheming Justin, you're one-on-one. He made his money today."

Hali's second sack of the day on Jones came with just a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the game and also resulted in a forced fumble that was recovered by defensive lineman Jaye Howard.


It effectively shut the door on any kind of a comeback by the Steelers.

On his radio call during the game, the "Voice of the Chiefs" Mitch Holthus threw out a Wade Davis reference in regards to Hali "closing out of the game," comparing him to the standout closer for the Kansas City Royals, who take the on the New York Mets in the World Series beginning on Tuesday over at Kauffman Stadium.

"A team effort," Hali said after the game of his performance. "We all rotate (in the game), then we get out and get our breaths, then we get back in there.

"That was a good team we were playing and just to get to the quarterback, it felt good."

Hali finished the game with 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss and another quarterback hit.

"He works hard and hard work pays off," defensive lineman Allen Bailey said of the 31-year-old Hali. "He takes care of his body and it's showing man, he's still got it."

Photos from the Chiefs week seven matchup against the Steelers

The Chiefs knew coming into this game that they'd have their hands full with running back Le'Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown, who are both among the best of the best at their respective positions.

"I've said that before, since [Jamaal Charles] has been hurt, I'd tell you [Le'Veon Bell] is probably the best one going right now," Reid said of the Steelers standout running back. "He had a couple plays. Good players are going to make good plays and he made a couple."

Bell finished the game with 17 carries for 121 yards, averaging more than 7 yards per carry, but it was one of Bell's runs in the fourth quarter that Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith showed the kind of effort that you want to see from one of your leaders.

It may have also been the play of the game.

With the Chiefs holding a 16-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, Bell took a handoff from Jones and raced around the left end and headed down the field.

At that point, Bell was off to the races and it didn't look like anyone was going to catch him.

But someone did.


"I had to catch him," Smith said after the game as he was laughing about it with his fellow defensive players. "This was my moment to show how fast I am. Because being the biggest defensive back over here, they don't really respect my speed.

"So when [Bell] broke out, I promise to you the only thing in my mind was, 'I've got to catch him.' No doubt."

If Smith hadn't of caught Bell, the Steelers would have taken a 17-16 lead and would have scored 14 points in a matter of 6 minutes.

It was a great effort by Smith on a play easily forgotten by most, but the impact of it shouldn't be lost for a team that was eagerly searching for its second win of the season.

It was a winning football play and Johnson spoke after the game about what this means moving forward.

"You know what, winning is a habit," Johnson said after the game. "To actually get off of that losing streak, it feels a little bit better. Everybody's got their chest out, but we know we have to play with our backs against the wall every week because we put ourselves in a deep, deep hole. "We're not oblivious – our record is 2-5, so we've got a long way to go."

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