Wha, wha, what happened? Not very many rational people (including yours truly) gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a snowball’s chance in hell of traveling to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs for their sixth game of the season and exiting with a victory notch on their belt, winning, 19-13.
Why? Well, because the Chiefs had traveled to New England for the NFL’s 2017 kickoff game and convincingly beat the Patriots in Foxboro, and before the loss to Pittsburgh, Kansas City was 5-0 and the only undefeated team left in the league. And don’t forget this: the Chiefs had a running back (Kareem Hunt) that was deep frying NFL defenses at a volcanic pace but the Black and Gold big nasty “D” held monsieur Hunt to 21yards on 9 carries and even with that anemic performance against the Steelers, Hunt still currently leads the NFL in rushing.
Mr. Hunt usually racked up 21 yards in the first five minutes of a game. Plus, the Chiefs had a quarterback in Alex Smith who supposedly had a perfect grasp of the offense of his “genius” coach Andy Reid. The Chiefs also had the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL prior to their encounter with the Steelers, Oct. 15.
Last, but certainly not least, the Chiefs had the 12th, 13th and maybe even the 14th “man” represented by their historically raucous fan base.
First of all, let’s hit rewind for a few moments. The week before their encounter with the Chiefs, Pittsburgh had a much more memorable “dance” with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had given their defense a very appropriate label, the “Sacksonville” Jaguars based on their week 1 performance against the Houston Texans where the “Jags” accumulated 10 sacks. They could have renamed their defense “Picksonville” after their trip to Pittsburgh because of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s 5 picks. Now and again there is much hemming and hawing about the great defensive scheme that Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler had drawn up against the Chiefs. First and foremost, any defense can shine when their offense does not give the opposing offense 14 points, plus 3 additional possessions as the result of 5 interceptions. I don’t care if you have the “steel curtain” or the “purple people eaters” playing defense for you, there are not many teams that can overcome 5 picks. Now hear this. The terrible game that Big Ben had against the Jaguars did not deter Roethlisberger from throwing into double coverage against the Chiefs. One of his ill-advised passes to Antonio brown was picked because of Brown “running the wrong route.” The second gamble with disaster was when he again threw into double coverage and Brown had to dig up the skeleton of the late great illusionist Harry Houdini and create some magic that caused the ball to go through the hands and bounce off the helmet of Chiefs defensive back Phillip Gaines into the sticky mitts of Brown, who immediately raced into the end zone. Football is supposed to be based on skill and planning, not luck. The play by Brown was not even necessary. There are other Steeler receivers.
Martavis Bryant, who, until recently was the No. 2 receiver, seems to have possibly lost favor with someone. Is there a mé·nage à trois “bromance” going on between Brown, Ben and Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell? If there is, does Bryant feel that he may be the odd man out? There are reports from the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that suggest Bryant recently requested a trade from the Steelers.
With the hungry Cincinnati Bengals on the way to face the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday, Oct. 22, will this be just another distraction or excuse for the Black and Gold?
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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