Pittsburgh Steelers Week 10 Report Card
Pittsburgh Steelers Week 10 Report Card
What was thought to be a massacre turned out to be a battle that had to be decided in overtime. The Kansas City Chiefs put up a good fight, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to upend the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Monday night.
Overall, the Steelers (6-3) didn’t live up to expectation facing one of the worse teams in the league in the Chiefs (1-8). Kansas City was the first to draw blood with four-play, 70-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. This was the first time all season that the Chiefs had the lead during regulation.
In actuality, Pittsburgh at times made the Chiefs look like a team that was much better than their record indicated. The biggest surprise to me was the Steelers’ inability to take advantage of Kansas City’s offense that leads the league in turnovers, and Pittsburgh’s offense not totally taking advantage of offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s knowledge of the Chiefs’ defense (since he was the team’s head coach last season).
However, despite the Steelers’ struggles and significant injuries, Pittsburgh prevailed in overtime by the score of 16-13, and are now riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak.
Unfortunately, this win came with the loss of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who left the game in the third quarter with a sprain to his throwing shoulder and significant damage to his ribs. Roethlisberger’s backup, Byron Leftwich, did a decent enough job to help the Steelers come away with the victory.
Even though Pittsburgh added another “W” to the win column, some letters aren’t as pleasant to see on their report card for Week 10.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of the game during the early part of the third quarter, but during the second quarter did manage to get the ball in the end zone before his untimely departure. Along with the touchdown pass, Roethlisberger finished completing nine of his 18 pass attempts for 84 yards. Backup quarterback Byron Leftwich stepped in and completed half of his 14 pass attempts for 73 yards. However, Leftwich did connect on a third-and-nine play for a 31-yard gain. Big Ben’s status for next week’s game is questionable. If Roethlisberger can’t go, then Leftwich will have to play better than he did this past Monday night.
The Steelers couldn’t continue their three-game streak of 100-yard rushers against the Chiefs. Not only could they not get a single rusher to gain 100 yards, but also they couldn’t get 100 yards as a team. Running back Isaac Redman started the game and was hopeful that he could repeat his 147-yard performance from last week. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Redman finished the game with just eight carries for 21 yards. Redman’s lack of carries was probably due to the fumble he had in the second quarter. Jonathan Dwyer handled the bulk of Pittsburgh’s running and ended the night with 56 yards on 19 carries.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Both Roethlisberger and Leftwich did a good job in spreading the ball among their receivers Monday night. The short passing game was in affect due to the lack of production in the running game and the absence of one of their starting receivers. Five of the eight players that caught a pass were wide receivers or tight ends, and combined for 12 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown. Most of this production in the passing game came in the first half with Big Ben under center. The aerial attack took a step back after Leftwich took control of the offense.
The offensive line didn’t dominate in the running game as they did in the previous three games. Pittsburgh’s running backs could only muster up 77 yards on the ground behind the blocking of the offensive front. Costly penalties didn’t help either, especially being flagged for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct on the same play. The offensive line’s pass protection wasn’t the best either. Kansas City only got one sack, but it knocked Big Ben out of the game. The O-line also allowed the Chiefs to get to Leftwich, which resulted in a fumble returned for a touchdown. Fortunately, for Pittsburgh, the replay showed that the fumble was actually an incomplete forward pass.
Pittsburgh’s defensive front was very solid for the most part. Both of the Steelers’ sacks came from the defensive line, and a couple of tackles for loss were registered by the D-line as well. However, at the start of the game, they couldn’t contain Kansas City’s running game, allowing them to march down the field for the game’s first touchdown. The Chiefs’ ground attack didn’t get contained until the second half. Overall, Kansas City’s running backs ran through the Steelers’ defense for 130 yards. Despite the gaudy numbers surrendered by the run defense, Pittsburgh’s play up front still caused confusion for a Kansas City offense that is turnover-prone.
The standout player of the defense, and probably the entire game, was linebacker Lawrence Timmons. The sixth-year linebacker finished the game with seven tackles, and an interception in overtime that set up the game-winning field goal. The constant pressure from the Steelers’ linebacking corps forced the Chiefs’ quarterback to complete less than half his completions. However, near the end of regulation, the Steelers’ linebackers couldn’t keep up with the Chiefs’ tight end, and surrendered some big plays over the middle to set Kansas City up for the game-tying field goal. The rest of Pittsburgh’s linebackers combined for 22 tackles in the game.
In addition to the pass rush from the Steelers’ defense, their secondary had a big hand in shutting down Kansas City’s passing game. Pittsburgh’s secondary is one of the reasons why the Steelers have the league’s best pass defense, and only surrendered 11 pass completions for 154 passing yards the entire game. It’s too bad that Pittsburgh’s defensive backs couldn’t get a turnover from the team that has the most in the league this season. Some of the 20 tackles coming from the Steelers’ defensive backs helped defend the Chiefs’ ground attack, as well as keep Kansas City’s receiver out of the end zone after receptions.
With Antonio Brown sidelined with an ankle injury, the Steelers’ kick and punt return game were nonexistent, with the biggest return coming from a 23-yard kickoff return. Even the punting game wasn’t at its best. However, it did come through when most needed, which was within the last two minutes of regulation when a 58-yard punt forced the Chiefs to march a long way for the game-tying field goal. The most consistent part of Pittsburgh’s special teams was the kicking game. Kicker Shaun Suisham was a perfect three for three, including the game-winning 23-yard field goal in overtime.
What was thought to be the x-factor of a predicted blowout turned out not to be as significant. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was the Chiefs’ head coach last season, didn’t seem to have a good enough game plan to face a defense that he was highly familiar with. I must say that some of that was due to Ben Roethlisberger being sidelined for virtually the entire second half. Despite the injury to Big Ben and the unexpected low production by the offense, the coaching for the defense is what put Pittsburgh over the top in this low-scoring contest.
Follow me on Twitter @ClydeASpeller
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