When a game like this gets played on the road, the old saying is, “get on the bus and get out of town”, meaning you are fortunate you won, you better leave before someone changes their mind. That was certainly the feeling this week as the Kansas City Chiefs took the Pittsburgh Steelers to overtime in Pittsburgh only to have the Steelers win it on a field goal. It was a game with some serious twists and turns.
The highlights of the game were fairly obvious. The Chiefs came out with tremendous intensity and energy and shocked a lethargic and flat-footed Steelers team, taking their first lead of the season. The weather conditions were bad and the Steelers in the first half seemed to me much more impacted by this. They continued to try and throw in the steady cold rain and wind, and the Chiefs were content to run the ball and take what they could get.
So, they went into the half tied at 10-10, but it just felt like the Steelers had some momentum and were going to take control of the game in the 2nd half. Then it all went wrong. Early in the third quarter Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in what appeared to be a rather benign play. But you realized quickly that Roethlisberger had injured his shoulder and went to the locker room for evaluation. Skipping the details of his injury which you can read here, the Steelers then had to rely on backup quarterback Byron Leftwich to lead this team and try and win the game.
But we were all reminded that this team really isn’t about the offense. The defense stepped up huge in the second half, put the locks on a Chiefs offense that had a chance to pull a huge upset against a short handed team and the defense denied them at every turn. In the end with everything on the line it was the defense that bailed out the offense for the win.
In the final analysis, this was an ugly win at it’s best. Everything said this was a game the Steelers should lose, but somehow they pulled it off. The biggest issue at this point is how do they function going forward for the time that Roethlisberger is going to be out. The next 3 games are huge for this team, and so getting this win in light of the fact winning the next 3 is going to be hard makes this victory even more important.