The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 16-13 Monday night at Heinz Field and below are my first half notes from the game with the second half notes to follow soon.
Kicker Shaun Suisham made the tackle on the opening kickoff. That\’s not exactly the way you want a game to start.
Ziggy Hood and Larry Foote are easily handled on the first run of the night as running back Jamaal Charles goes for good yardage to the right. On the first 3rd down of the series it is Brett Keisel pushing left guard Jeff Allen aside easily for a sack of Matt Cassel. Keisel starts off like he is slanting inside and gets his hands easily inside Allen to push him aside.
The Steelers uncharacteristically open up with an empty backfield on first down and Ben Roethlisberger finds Heath Miller down the seam for an explosive play. On the next play it looks like Emmanuel Sanders should have hauled in the catch down the right sideline. Roethlisberger can\’t connect with Jerricho Cotchery on third down as the ball looks like went right through the hands of the wide receiver. Two drops already? Both would have been tough catches, but should have made in my opinion. The Steelers have to punt.
After a Charles run on first down for 7 yards the Chiefs go play action and cornerback Keenan Lewis bites hard on it. This leaves tight end Tony Moeaki with a ton of space and Cassel hits him for the explosive play which was aided by Ryan Clark missing the tackle. The Chiefs keep working off of their early run success by going play action again with Cassel rolling out on a naked bootleg to the opposite side to hit a wide open Dexter McCluster for another first down. The Steelers backside bit really hard on the play. On first down Charles presses the tackle and Foote doesn\’t maintain gap control as he is running to the edge. This opens up a cutback lane for Charles, who then beats a poor arm tackle attempt by safety Will Allen for an easy touchdown. The Chiefs ability to establish the run early in the game has the Steelers defense on their heels and playing poorly.
The Steelers go three and out on their next possession as Roethlisberger is forced to throw away a ball after having plenty of time in the pocket. Miller was actually double teamed at the line and had a problem getting out into his route which also caused Sanders to not be able to use him to get a rub. The Steelers punt again.
The Chiefs open up their next drive with another nice run by Charles off of left tackle as LaMarr Woodley fails to set the edge and Lawrence Timmons is handled by the tight end at the second level. The Steelers linebackers are again handled and Charles goes around the right end for yet another big gain just two plays later. The Steelers eventually get a 3rd down stop on an incomplete pass to Dwayne Bowe as Clark does a great job of reading the play and forcing the throw to be way outside as he had rotated under the hook route of Bowe.
After Roethlisberger hits Isaac Redman on a check down for a first down on the next drive, Willie Colon is flagged for holding and also gets another flag for cussing out an official. Redman proceeds to fumble on the next play and the Chiefs recover. Miserable start.
The Chiefs wind up going three and out as Clark and Woodley have nice run stops to kill the drive. The damage is done as the Chiefs have a 10-0 lead just into the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff the Chiefs kick it out of bounds which gives the Steelers offense great field position. Tight end David Paulson fumbles on first down after a short catch but thankfully Colon is there to recover it. Jonathan Dwyer is now in at running back and Roethlisberger converts on 3rd and short to Miller, who had run a little pivot route out of the backfield. Roethlisberger again connects with Miller off of play action as Chiefs safety Eric Berry allows the Steelers tight end to run right past him after biting on the fake. Roethlisberger gets away with an ill-advised throw to Sanders on 2nd down as Berry almost had an interception on the play in the front corner of the end zone. The drive stalls on an incomplete pass short of the chains and the Steelers are forced to settle for a Suisham field goal.
The Chiefs muff the ensuing kickoff which leaves them starting their next possession inside their own 10. A false start on 3rd and short backs the Chiefs offense up and Timmons then makes a nice play to defense a pass to Moeaki to force a three and out.
After a run by Dwyer on 1st down, Roethlisberger goes deep to Mike Wallace in the end zone but just barely overthrows him. Wallace had the separation and the pass was right over his head and outstretched hands. Dwyer picks up the first down on a run off center behind great blocks by Colon, who pulled right, and Mike Adams. Roethlisberger scrambles up the middle on third down to set the Steelers up first and goal. Wallace then makes a circus one-handed catch on an inside-out route in the right back corner of the end zone to tie the game at 10.
The Chiefs move the ball just past midfield on their next possession but can\’t convert another 3rd down as Timmons comes on a fire-x blitz up the middle which forces Cassel to throw the ball away. The Chiefs punt and the Steelers are contempt to run out the first half clock.