The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 16-13 Monday night and below are my second half notes from the game. Here are my first half notes if you missed them.
The Steelers get the second half kickoff and Ben Roethlisberger gets away with a forced first down pass to the left sideline to Mike Wallace, who is bracketed by cornerback Javier Arenas underneath and safety Kendrick Lewis over the top. Arenas has the ball clank right off of his hands. That would have been a hell of a way to start the second half. The Chiefs played quite a bit of cover-2 in this game, which took away the deep ball chances for the Steelers. Perhaps it would have been better if Arenas had picked off the ball as two plays later is when the disaster took place. On third down Roethlisberger steps up into the pocket to avoid the outside pass rush pressure, but there is not enough room for him to escape. He winds up be sandwiched between Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and is done for the night with a shoulder and rib injury. The Chiefs really only rushed three players on the play as Allen Bailey backed off to provide inside contain.
Brett Keisel forces a bad pass by Matt Cassel on the second play of the next drive. On the play he is able to get a hit on Cassel after looping around the outside of James Harrison. The defense gets good pressure on third down with a blitz, but can\’t contain up the middle. Cassel escapes to pick up the first down. Jamaal Charles gets good yardage on the next two runs. On the second one he splits Al Woods and Steve McLendon, as both can\’t get off of their blocks to even attempt a tackle. Larry Foote chose the wrong gap to fill on the play and Ryan Clark is forced to make the tackle. On an ensuing third down LaMarr Woodley can\’t set the edge and it allows Peyton Hillis to get outside for a first down. Ike Taylor suffers a stinger making the tackle. On the next play Cassel hits Dwayne Bowe on a wide receiver screen with blockers out in front. Lawrence Timmons fails to wrap up Bowe, who goes in for the score. Luckily Branden Albert was flagged for a hold on Will Allen on the play and it is called back. The Steelers blitz on third and short and Timmons forces Cassel to get rid of the ball quickly and it lands at the feet of Dexter McCluster. The Chiefs attempt a field goal, but Ryan Succop misses wide right from 33 yards out. This series goes from the Chiefs having 7 points to them getting nothing. A huge turning point in the game and Byron Leftwich has yet to take a snap.
On the first snap for Leftwich he throws incomplete deep off of play action and gets his legs taken out from underneath after his follow thru. He bangs his head and back hard on the ground and is slow to get up. Luckily he did not have to leave the game as tight end Heath Miller would have had to go under center and play quarterback. On third and 7 the heavy pass rush forces Leftwich to try and pull back his throw. The ball slips out and is originally ruled a fumble which the Chiefs return for a touchdown. The play is reviewed and it shows that it was obviously an incomplete pass. After the Chiefs had scored they were flagged for excessive celebration. Instead of it being fourth down the Steelers get an automatic first down after the penalty. Jonathan Dwyer almost picks up the first down on a third and 5 backside run that was aided by a nice block by Emmanuel Sanders. The Steelers go for it on fourth and short but Isaac Redman is stopped short on a nice play by Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who knifes thru backside of the tackle. The ball goes over on downs.
The Steelers defense stiffens against the run on the next Chiefs possession and their drive stalls after McCluster can\’t hold on to a third down pass with Keenan Lewis in trail on a simple pivot route.
David Gilreath almost puts the ball on the ground on the punt return, but fortunately was down prior to losing the football. Leftwich just overshoots Wallace deep on second down. Leftwich threw that ball 59 yards on a rope. It was a good decision as Wallace had single coverage with no safety help over the top. On third down Leftwich hits Sanders across the middle for an explosive play. It was a great route combination with Sanders delaying off of the line to work the rub off of the route of Miller. After a few runs that include an end around reverse, Arenas is flagged for pass interference. I thought it was a fair call on a wobble ball that resulted from Leftwich getting nailed as he released it. The personal foul call followed and the Steelers might have gotten a break after looking at the play slowed down. In real time it indeed looks to be helmet-to-helmet on Hali, but not so much when slowed down. I sure wish there was another angle on this. On the ensuing third down play is when you can really see the rustiness in the arm of Leftwich as well as the lack of accuracy as he misses Sanders in the front corner of the end zone after drifting left out of the pocket. These are the throws that he will need to make moving forward. The window was there but he was wide left. The Steelers settle for a field goal.
Taylor does one hell of a job of ripping out the deep ball caught by Jonathan Baldwin on first down. Clark, in a cover-1 look, bites on the run fake which leaves Taylor one on one with over the top coverage. He makes his ground up in just enough time. This was a huge play in the game. Ziggy Hood splits a double team for a run stop to set up a big third down and Clark almost makes the interception on third down. Hood had a pressure on the play.
The two teams trade possessions. Will Johnson dropped a pass on the Steelers possession, while Timmons and Allen make great stops defensively for the Steelers to force the Chiefs to go three and out on their possession.
Leftwich nearly converts on a third down pass to Sanders on the next drive, but Arenas makes a nice play. It could have been called pass interference very easily, but wasn\’t. Steelers punt still holding a 3 point lead.
Keisel gets the sack on the next possession thanks to Woodley spinning off of the tight end to provide pressure on Cassel and force him up in the pocket. The Steelers rush 5 on third down and get enough pressure to force a bad throw from Cassel. The Chiefs punt and the Steelers have a chance to put away the game but can\’t.
Leftwich does manage to get the Steelers out of their own end on a nice throw to Jerricho Cotchery on third down. It was a simple post route with the defender playing way off. I don\’t know why he gave Cotchery that much cushion. The Steelers are forced to burn a timeout following a Chiefs timeout as it appears Todd Haley is slow getting the play called into Leftwich, who isn\’t very happy about that. Chalk one demerit up to the coaching staff here. After a completion to Johnson out to the left, Dwyer comes up just short on third down and the Steelers punt. Drew Butler does a bad job and punts it into the end zone for a touchback. This was a prime chance to hang one high and pin the Chiefs inside their 20.
Cassel hits Tony Moeaki to move the ball out to around the 40 and then gets away with a poor pass out to the left side that Keenan Lewis almost picks off. Chiefs wide receiver Terrance Copper does a nice job of playing defense on the play. After another pass to Moeaki, Clarks breaks up a pass intended for Bowe with a low hit to the thigh. Unfortunately it knocks Clark out of the game and Bowe is dinged as well. On third down Moeaki is flagged for pushing off on Timmons. On 4th and 15 Cassel steps up to avoid pressure and hits Bowe for the first down. Taylor, who had coverage on the play, made a mistake of peeking into the backfield and Bowe runs away from him to space for the first down. Cassel spikes the ball and Succop comes on to tie the game and send it to overtime.
On the second play of overtime Timmons drops underneath on a hook and makes a nice interception on a Cassel pass intended for Bowe. The Steelers immediately send Shaun Suisham out to end the game, and he does.