Steelers vs. Chiefs: The “Righting the Ship” Edition
I admit it. I was nervous about this game. I was nervous about the Kansas City defense taking out critical Steelers offensive players such as Ben Roethlisberger. (In fact they did manage to take out Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had a touchdown pass and a special teams play which pinned Kansas City at about the 2 yard line. And Marcus Gilbert left with an ankle injury.) I was also worried about Marcus Peters, their second-year corner who leads the universe all-time in interceptions.
I was worried about their special teams, particularly their explosive kick returner Tyreek Hill. In the end he had a touchdown, but in garbage time, on offense. His long return was called back on a penalty.
I was also worried about the return of Jamaal Charles, the Alex Smith controlled-passing game of a sort which gave the Steelers defense so much trouble last week, and their very good tight end Travis Kelce. And in the end the defense was the unit who suffered the most from injuries, losing Jarvis Jones, Anthony Chickillo, and someone else who I can’t remember at the moment. Perhaps this is part of why they gave up the two touchdowns late in the game.
The Steelers showed the form that was encouraging everyone to jump on the bandwagon at the beginning of the season. And boy was it satisfying to see. Ben threw five touchdown passes to four different receivers (two to Antonio Brown, who really needs to come up with a more family-friendly end zone celebration.) DeAngelo Williams added a running touchdown, which was entirely satisfactory, and Le’Veon Bell had 140-some yards rushing in his first game back.
The Kansas City special teams unit was pretty special, all right. Their kick returner made some really poor decisions resulting in the Chiefs starting a couple of drives practically in their own end zone. Dustin Colquitt, who has been one of the best punters in the league, shanked a punt altogether, resulting in the Steelers starting at mid-field, more or less. Their kicker missed the one field goal attempt.
The vaunted Kansas City defense didn’t get a finger on Ben for the most part, other than a late pile-on long after the whistle was blown. (Not flagged, naturally.) The only potential turnover was a fumble by Chris Hubbard which Landry Jones recovered, when the game was utterly out of reach and they pulled some starters. The replay of the Chris Hubbard (at center) fumble was pretty funny, actually, as he hit his own butt. I guess that’s his version of the patented Mark Sanchez butt fumble.
Marcus Peters barely got a finger on anything, and was mainly unsuccessful when lined up against Sammie Coates or Antonio Brown or whoever.
The Steelers defense, on the other hand, got some actual sacks last night, a pretty exciting sight for the Steeler Nation faithful. (Cam Heyward, who appears to be recovering, finally, from the high ankle sprain, had three of them, Vince Williams the other.) They also had two turnovers—an interception by none other than Jarvis Jones and a fumble forced by Stephon Tuitt and recovered by Ross Cockrell. And the tackling, while still occasionally lacking, looked considerably better. Jamaal Charles was pretty much a non-factor, as was Travis Kelce.
It’s late, even here in Colorado Springs, so I’m just going to mention a few favorite moments in the game, other than the obvious touchdowns and such-like.
One was the call around the stadium of “Heatthh” when Jesse James made the very nice contested catch for a first down somewhere in the second half of the game. (I’ll be a bit more precise later…)
I have to admit, I loved them playing the video of B.J. Finney announcing he was under contract to the Steelers. That was pure gold. And kudos to him for coming in for Ramon Foster and playing so well. David DeCastro had a lot more calls against him than Finney did.
And how about Maurkice Pouncey blazing down the field to block for Bell’s almost-TD run? That was a remarkable sight.
Most bizarre moment of the game? Had to be the discussion between Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth about Ben Roethlisberger “feeling out the tight ends.” They surely could have phrased it differently.
That’s all. There will be more, much more, on Tuesday, as this is a much more satisfactory game to talk about than last week’s. Much. But for now let’s all bask in the glow of 3-1 at the end of the first quarter of the season.