The Monday Night Football contest between the Chiefs and Steelers proved once again that any team can beat, or come close to, beating any other team no matter what the records indicate. For the Steelers, things maybe didn’t go quite as planned but a win is a win and while there is concern for injured players for one, having concern about the Steelers offense shouldn’t be something that keeps you up at night. At least not as much as it did in earlier in the year.
Despite the overall poor performance on the ground, and really by the offense in general, the improvement in the last 3 weeks leading up to that game hasn’t been all for naught.
As a team the Steelers rushed 29 times for 95 yds and no touchdowns. Jonathan Dwyer rushed 19 times for 56 yds, Isaac Redman had 8 rushes for 21 yds, Ben Roethlisberger added one rush for 14 yds and Emmanuel Sanders 1 for 4 yds. Those aren’t exactly stellar numbers but such is life in the NFL from time to time.
Even the best of the best have off games; whether it’s against a team that just routinely has their number or just one of those days when things don’t go right. Credit the Chiefs defense for preparing and largely being able to accomplish what they set out too, even if they didn’t ultimately win. They sold out to stop the rush, keeping their big run stoppers on the field for a good portion of the game and forcing the Steelers to throw even in the bad weather conditions.
Todd Haley, as we’ve found out, loves the quick screens and short passes in the flat to crossing receivers or tight ends, but the Chiefs did their homework in that aspect too. Kansas City was able to take their own questionable secondary and keep the Steelers receivers from getting clean breaks, thus disrupting the timing needed in a fast moving offense like Haley prefers to execute. They were also successful in that area because of the constant pressure on both Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich. If you don’t have time to throw and don’t have targets to throw too, you’re in trouble.
Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders combined for just 5 catches for 44 yds and 1 TD. If it weren’t for the spectacular “knee cradle” touchdown by Wallace or the 4 catches for Heath Miller the Steelers offense would have been even worse. That lone touchdown and just barely enough from everyone else was fortunately all the team needed to squeak out the win. Again sometimes you just have these types of games. Blame it on the Steelers just looking past the Chiefs or just an off night but things will get better.
Jonathan Dwyer is still a good running back, Isaac Redman can still get it done and the progress that the offensive line has made in recent weeks is still something to build on. Pittsburgh will need everyone available to step up their game next Sunday night and throughout the rest of the season if they want to continue their push to take over the AFC North.
Overall KC came in with nothing to lose and the Steelers simply were not ready for that type of relentless pressure and pursuit. Lest we forget that next weeks’ opponent, the hated Baltimore Ravens just barely beat those same Chiefs earlier in the year 9-6.
If anything this win, ugly as it was, gives the Steelers coaching staff more to work on and prepare for because you can bet that if the Chiefs weren’t able to pull off that big defensive performance, somebody else would have. Equally as guaranteed is the fact that the Ravens defensive staff will be studying what Gary Gibbs did to slow down a potent Todd Haley offense.
The team will learn from this and use it to help combat what the Ravens and the rest of the league will throw at them this season. They’ve come too far to start going backwards now, injuries or not.
As Mike Tomlin said today; “Excuses are the tools of the Incompetent”. The Steelers are hardly anywhere close to that, even with a rough day at the office.