Inside Conditions…Too many Chiefs not enough Indians

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There are ugly wins and hideous losses. The Pittsburgh Steelers were ambushed by the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday in K.C. This defeat was sort of “Freddy Kruggerish.”

Now let’s get right to the ugly. Special teams, special ed teams or irregular teams, whatever words you wish to describe this area, were again the Achilles heel that did the Black and Gold in. Another kickoff was returned for a TD and an ill-advised throw from Big Ben with at least four red jerseys hanging out in the end zone also played a significant part in the unraveling of the defending world champions. Linebacker Andy Studebaker made his debut as a starter for the Chiefs. He was not under the baptism of fire that everyone expected but instead was the arsonist with the torch who almost singlehandedly burned the post-season chances of the Steelers to cinders.

aubreybruce-columnpic
AUBREY BRUCE

 

With Pittsburgh driving for a score in the third quarter, Big Ben tossed a pick right into the wheel house of Studebaker who was two yards deep in the Black and Gold end zone and he almost took it to the house before running out of gas and being run down from behind by Rashard Mendenhall at the Steelers eight yard line. That play cost the boys from “Steeltown” a minimum of three points. Talk to me people, what is going on with the defense of Pittsburgh? Snarls mean nothing in the NFL. The Big Nasty D had better quit snarling and get back to brawlin’ because in the National Football League everyone puts on their pants and pads the same way. Playoffs, what playoffs? No one had better even be whispering about the playoffs, wild cards or any other cards because the Steelers are now performing like “mild cards.”

A few weeks ago I talked about making my hotel reservations for Super Bowl XLIV. H’mm, that was probably a bit premature on my part because it now appears as if maybe the win by Pittsburgh at Invesco field against the Denver Broncos sucked a significant amount of the wind out of the Steelers sails.

The Oakland Raiders helped to deflate the cushion of the Cincy Bengals’ AFC North lead by defeating the Bengals 20-17 later last Sunday afternoon. But the playoff aspirations of the Steelers are still just a little shy of being on life support.

Pittsburgh was not totally focused for 60 minutes because how can you allow a team (Kansas City) that had only amassed 47 total yards of offense at the end of the first half come back and beat you. It shows that the Chiefs made adjustments in the locker room and Pittsburgh did not. Don’t forget the turnovers, no, not the apple turnovers just the turnovers.

Even though the company line is always; “one game at a time,” I have a sneaking suspicion that a few of the Black and Gold were already imagining that they were listening to the pre-game introductions at M&T Bank Stadium in B-More last Sunday waiting to bust pads with “Big Play” Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the rest of the Baltimore Ravens. Hey fellas, the Ravens game is this Sunday.

Oops, a hidden pothole was in the road— the Chiefs. Kansas City represented more than a speed bump on Pittsburgh’s road to Super Bowl XLIV because when it is all said and done the boys from K.C. may have been the sinkhole that swallowed up Pittsburgh’s playoff chances this year. Notice that I said, “may have” because you can never really count the Steelers out until all of the votes have been tallied. But even if you look through the best pair of rose colored glasses that you can find, it appears bleak for the chances of the defending Super Bowl champions to hoist another Lombardi Trophy over their heads to end the 2009 season.

The Black and Gold seem to be really missing the services of Troy Polamalu. What about the Steeler concept of “plugging others in when starters go down? Kansas City had their own personnel and problems playing without suspended starting wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Bowe is serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s banned substance policy but veteran wide receiver Chris Chambers stepped up and torched the Steelers secondary catching four balls for 119 yards. Dwayne who?

Before OT the Steelers had the ball for almost 19 minutes longer than the Chiefs and out muscled them in yardage gained stats 463-206.

As far as kickoff and punt coverage are concerned, the Steelers had better put their best athletes on special teams if they do not want to continue getting burned. This would be a great time to have the Cedric Wilsons of the world.

By the way, not that it matters much, the Chiefs won by the final score of 27-24 in overtime.

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