The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the season known for a prolific offense and a suspect defense. Many National NFL writers, analysts, and talk show hosts had the Steelers in the Super Bowl directed by that great offense. Who would have ever thought that the Pittsburgh Steelers would have that opportunity sitting in front of them but not because of that prolific offense. It is because of their opportunistic defense. After surrendering an early touchdown, the defense clamped down and allowed the offense to produce 6 field goals on their way to an 18-16 victory.
Looking ahead: The Steelers are an early 5.5 point underdog in New England next week. If the same offense that showed up the last two weeks goes to Foxborough, this team could get run out of the building.
The Story on offense yesterday was all about Le’Veon Bell and his 170 yards of rushing on 30 carries. He literally carried this team to victory as Big Ben would struggle mightily inside the 30. His play calling was suspect at best as they would go away from the run near the goal line trying to pass into the end zone. One of those trips turned into an interception that could have iced the game if the Steelers would have just tried to run it into the end zone.
The Roethlisberger interception came after Ryan Shazier would intercept a tipped pass and give the Steelers the ball back. That was just an example of the lack of production inside the 30 as their were poor play calls, dropped passes, missed assignments.
Antonio Brown had over 100 yards in receiving and his most important catch was on a 3rd down play that put the game out of reach. Although, Brown could have done that prior if he would have held onto a first down catch in the end zone from around the 30 early in the first half. The defender made a nice play and pried it away from him as he went to the ground. It was clearly a good play, although it is a catch he has made all season that the Steelers really needed.
Pittsburgh stalled out time and again in the first half and would lean on the Wizard of “Boz” to kick field goal after field goal. Very similar to the game he had prior to the playoffs. Hee made every kick in that game also.
Le’Veon Bell was beast like throughout the first half, and on the first drive of the second half. After that point, the Chiefs were able to hold him in check.
The Kansas City Defense deserves credit for keeping their offense in the game as Alex Smith showed why he is widely considered over rated. He struggled, making some poor decisions and living on short passes with his suspect arm. Although, in his defense, His receivers gave him no help at all as they would drop many passes last night including possible Touchdowns.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was a disgrace after the game ranting and whining about the referee’s call on the 2 point conversion that negated the play. The call was holding and it went against the lineman defending James Harrison. The lineman drove Harrison to the ground as his arms were wrapped around him. It was clearly a hold and Kelce was way off base hammering the ref. He made no mention of the stupid penalty he took knocking a corner to the ground after the whistle that cost his team 15 yards. He also forgot to mention the dropped pass that could have resulted in a touchdown. It was a horrific drop.
Ben Roethlisberger completed a long pass to AB that was thrown perfectly. Many passes prior to and after were high. Then Ben hit a stretch where he had several ball tipped and batted down at the line. The one tip turned into the interception in the end zone. What was worse than his play, was his play calling around the goal line and inside the 30. He consistently tried to pass into the end zone from up close, although they ran the ball well getting down there. Bell should have gotten ball on a couple of those drives and the game could have been different. Roethlisberger finished the game 20-31 for 224 yards and an interception.
The Steelers defense was led by the usual suspects including James Harrison, Artie Burns, Ryan Shazier and Sean Davis. Stephon Tuitt also played very well getting pressure on Smith time and again. Harrison scored the only sack, but the Steelers put pressure on the mobile Alex Smith.
The Steelers now get to try and solve Tom Brady at home. Brady was not at his best this past weekend, but the Texans defense is arguably one of the best in the league. The Pittsburgh Defense will need to be every bit that good and opportunistic. More than that, the offense will need to play the best game they have played all year. If they do not, they will not win. This is not a game they can grind through like their last several. This needs to be a clean game with crisp passing, good decisions, and no mistakes.
Can the Steelers do that? Absolutely! Will they…. The Magic eight ball is still sloshing around in it’s fluid but We will soon find out.