The Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs??? The Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs!!!!
That was basically my emotional progression following Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Chiefs. Initially I was confused. Then came acceptance. Then came anger.
How can the defending Super Bowl champs lose to a 2-7 team? How can the Steelers generate over 500 yards of offense and lose? How can the Steelers have almost twice the time of possession (44:07 vs. 22:25) and lose? How can the Steelers sack the opposing quarterback 5 times and lose.
The only thing that calmed me down and brought my blood back down below the boiling point was the fact that the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the lowly Oakland Raiders. In fact, every team in the AFC North lost, so nobody gained or lost any ground.
Had the Steelers won, they would now be tied with the Bengals for 1st place in the AFC North. But the Steelers did not win.
Frankly, I can handle losses. Every team loses sometimes. So the loss wasn’t what bothered me. What bothered me was the way they loss. The team allowed mental errors and poor execution to cost them a very winnable game.
The opening kickoff was a precursor of things to come. The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles returned the kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. So with only 16 seconds elapsed in the game, the Steelers found themselves down 7-0.
In the 3rd quarter, the Steelers were leading 17-7 when Ben Roethlisberger threw an untimely interception. The Chiefs marched down the field and scored a touchdown. Another costly mistake by the Steelers.
Later in the 3rd quarter the Steelers were driving and were in the Chiefs’ red zone when Roethlisberger threw another interception. The Chiefs returned the interception 94 yards and would have scored had it not been for great hustle by Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall ran down the field and made a tackle that prevented a touchdown. The Steelers’ defense held firm, and the Chiefs had to settle for a field goal. Nevertheless, that was another 3 points that the Chiefs shouldn’t have had.
In the 4th quarter, the Steelers’ pass defense suffered two consecutive breakdowns. First Matt Cassel beat Ryan Clark for a 30 yard completion. He must have seen something in Clark’s coverage that he thought he could exploit, because on the very next play he went right back at him and completed a 47 yard pass. That’s 77 yards in two plays. Three plays later, the Chiefs were in the endzone again.
At the end of regulation, the Steelers found themselves in a 24-24 tie, despite leading in almost every statistical category.
But as fate would have it, the Steelers won the coin toss, and chose to receive the kickoff. Like everyone else in Steeler Nation, I assumed that the team would march down the field and win the game in overtime. But to my surprise, the Chiefs defense stood firm and forced the Steelers to punt.
The Chiefs got the ball and pretty soon the Steelers suffered yet another defensive breakdown. Matt Cassel threw a short pass to Chris Chambers, and Chambers managed to elude several Steelers tacklers on his way to a 61 yard gain. So with a 1st and goal at the Steelers 4 yard line, the Chiefs elected to kick a field goal rather than try to get the ball in the endzone. Ryan Succup’s kick split the uprights, and the Chiefs were celebrating while the Steelers stood in stunned disbelief.
The Steelers have been an enigma all season. They’ve lost games that they should have won, and they’ve won games that they should have lost. Frankly, the Steelers could very easily be 10-0 at this point. But they could also be 2-8. I’m never quite sure which Steelers team I’m going to see from week to week.
Is the defense one of the best in the NFL, or are they the unit that has often been prone to 4th quarter meltdowns? Is Big Ben a premiere quarterback, or is he a player who throws silly, unforced interceptions? Are they a team that can win with a “smash mouth” running game, or are they a finesse team that prefers to pass in obvious running situations?
With 6 games remaining, the Steelers are going to have to figure out which team they are. They face the Baltimore Ravens next week, and each loss makes it more difficult to make the playoffs. Steeler Nation is waiting to see who this team really is. Will the real Pittsburgh Steelers please stand up?
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