From Arrowhead Stadium
Limit Pittsburgh’s big plays on offense
The Steelers have become very much a passing offense, although now that the weather is getting colder and weather in the northeast, they may start have QB Ben Roethlisberger handing off more often. But Big Ben and his offensive coordinator Big Bruce Arians love the big passing play. They have a 95-yard Roethlisberger to WR Mike Wallace touchdown pass, one of six scores for Wallace this season. On the ground, they find big yardage as well, as Rashard Mendenall has a 68-yard run and Jonathan Dwyer has a 76-yard run. The Chiefs defense has not allowed any breakout runs this year; the longest has been 35 yards. But they have given up some long pass plays, 67 and 56 and 52-yard TD plays in the last two games. SUCCESS β the Chiefs defense got this done, as they allowed only one play for more than 20 yards and that was a 34-yard pass play. This was just one of several areas on defense where the Chiefs got the job done.
How about a happy return
As second-round draft choices in 2010, RB Dexter McCluster and CB Javier Arenas were considered potential game-breaking punt and kickoff returners. Arenas came out of Alabama as one of the best punt returners in NCAA history with seven career touchdowns. McCluster never reached the end zone at Ole Miss, but he was a factor in the field position battle each week with returns. And it was McCluster that took back a punt for a score in his first game, the 2010 season opener against San Diego. Since then the Chiefs have played 26 games and the pair has returned 156 punts and kickoffs. None have reached the end zone. None have gone for more than 37 yards. Chiefs need to generate momentum in the kicking game, and it’s time for the return game to make a big contribution. FAILED β The opportunities were few for the Chiefs returners, but they produced returns of 20, 14 and 7 yards, so there was no help for the field position.
Don’t help the Steelers turnover ratio
Pittsburgh has one of the league’s best defenses and has had over the last 30 years. For some reason in 2011, they’ve been suffering a takeaway drought; Pittsburgh has generated just six takeaways, four interceptions and two recovered fumbles. That’s a pace to have 10 takeaways on the season. Since 1970, the fewest takeaways they had in a season were 22 (2009 and 1975). On the season, they are minus-10, lowest in the league. The Chiefs are minus-three with 19 giveaways. When they win, they have had six giveaways. Then they lose, they’ve had 13 interceptions and fumbles lost. They need to keep ball possession all buttoned up. FAILED β Coming into the game, the Steelers had just six takeaways, but they got another four against the Chiefs. The defense was able to take the ball away twice. In the end of the game, the Chiefs were minus-2 in the turnover ratio, one of those surefire ways to a destructive loss.
Find the end zone
The Chiefs have 13 offensive TDs, nine of those have come in their four victories. That leaves four TDs for their six defeats. In their last three games, the Chiefs scored just 16 points, with one touchdown. To win, they must find a way to turn their opportunities into six points against a defense that has allowed 19 offensive touchdowns. The Chiefs are 29th among 32 teams in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game. The Steelers are 4th in scoring defense, allowing 17.9 points per game. You’ve got to score to win and the Chiefs need something more than 3, 10 and 3 points they’ve scored the last three weeks. FAILED β Another game without a touchdown for the Chiefs. That’s the fourth time in 11 games where they were unable to score a touchdown. They have just one offensive score in the last four games. Can’t win, if you can’t score.