Chiefs Help Steelers To A 13-9 Victory

From Arrowhead Stadium

There were things going in the right direction for the Chiefs Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

First they were at home, and although fans of the Steelers are everywhere, they knew the Arrowhead crowd would give them a boost. Even though they are playing with a roster that lacks some of the best players who have been lost to injury, they faced a Pittsburgh team that had similar problems. Pro Bowl names like OLB LaMarr Woodley, SS Troy Polamalu and C Maurkice Pouncey out of the lineup and off the field and their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a broken right thumb.

None of it ended up working in the Chiefs favor, as the Steelers slogged their way to 13-9 victory.

A thing of beauty it was not, certainly not in any standard football sense. But for a team that was dealing with injuries and needing backup players to step forward and get things done, the Steelers showed they had what head coach Mike Tomlin called “starters and starters in waiting.”

The Chiefs showed their shallow talent pool, just as they have throughout the now four-game losing streak that threatens to bring a very early end to their 2011 season. On a night when Pittsburgh needed help, the Chiefs provided presents in the form of four turnovers – all off the hands of starting QB Tyler Palko. The three interceptions and one fumbled snap made it impossible for Todd Haley’s team to beat Pittsburgh, even with the Steelers in a depleted state.

“Our guys gave it everything they had,” Haley said. “They stuck together. They didn’t get down. We kept playing hard, sticking to the game plan and in the end we had a chance there moving the ball across the 50 to potentially win the game. We turned the ball over offensively, when you do it four times, you generally don’t have a chance in the end. “

That last chance came with possession of the ball, 38 seconds to play and the Chiefs offense had a 1st-and-15 at the Pittsburgh 37-yard line. Palko threw to his right side for WR Dwayne Bowe and the pass was intercepted by Lewis at the Steelers 14-yard line with 28 seconds to play.

For the Chiefs to even be in that position does speak to their willingness to not give up, to keep playing when the horizon doesn’t look so good. But ultimately it came down to the Chiefs on offense or defense not stepping forward and making plays when they were needed.

And despite their problems with Woodley inactive due to a hamstring pull, and losing Polamalu (concussion) and Pouncey (illness) in the first quarter, the Steelers had players step forward and make plays.

“We are excited about the win, excited for the men, particularly in the manner which it unfolded with the signature plays defensively down the stretch,” Tomlin said. “We know as we push into December football, those are the kind of plays we are going to need to get out of stadiums with wins.”

The outcome left the Steelers at 8-3 and tied with New England, Baltimore and Houston for the best record in the AFC. They trail the Ravens in their own division because they’ve lost twice to Baltimore. But with five weeks left in the season, it was a necessary outcome for a team with post-season plans.

They had a touchdown catch from TE Wesley Saunders, a guy who had just two catches coming into the game. They had a late interception from CB Keenan Lewis who came in late and grabbed his first interception of the season. They had LB Jason Worilds step in for Woodley and he had six tackles and a sack. S Ryan Munday replaced Polamalu (possible concussion) and finished as the Steelers leading tackler with 10 and an interception.

One thing the Steelers got in this game that they’ve struggled with is takeaways. Entering the game, they had just six takeaways in 10 games. Against the Chiefs and QB Tyler Palko, they had three interceptions and a fumble recovery, pushing their total to 10 takeaways on the season.

It was the fourth consecutive defeat for the Chiefs, who are 4-7 on the season and now three games behind AFC West front-runner Oakland.

“It’s hard; there’s no explanation for it,” said LB Derrick Johnson. “We’ve had some close games that we should have won. It’s tough trying to stop this bleeding. We’re bleeding right now and we’ve got to stop it.”

The first half was highlighted by both defenses as there were a combined four turnovers and only 292 offensive yards and one touchdown between the teams. The Chiefs broke the scoreboard first on their initial possession of the game, as Palko drove them 57 yards on 11 plays before Ryan Succop made a 41-yard FG. As has been typical with the Chiefs, their inconsistent offense moved the ball to the Steelers 27-yard line and then produced just three yards in the next three plays.

Pittsburgh was going in for a score when RB Mewelde Moore fumbled on a hit by OLB Tamba Hali at the Kansas City two-yard line. The ball rolled into the end zone and was recovered by CB Javier Arenas. But the Chiefs gave it back five plays later, when Palko fumbled a snap from center and Steelers DE Brett Keisel recovered the football. The Chiefs defense held the fort and Pittsburgh punted.

But on the last play of the first quarter, Palko badly under threw WR Steve Breaston and the pass was intercepted by CB Ike Taylor. In four plays the Steelers had a 23-yard FG from Shaun Suisham, to tie the score at 3-3.

Palko came right back and threw another interception, Munday grabbed an errant pass and the Steelers had possession at the Chiefs 24-yard line. In five plays, Roethlisberger had the Steelers in the end zone on the two-yard TD pass to Saunders. The PAT kick gave Pittsburgh a 10-3 lead.

Near the end of the first half, the teams traded field goals, as Succop hit from 49 yards and Suisham matched that distance on the final play of the first half, sending the teams to the locker room with the Steelers leading 13-6.

The only scoring in the second half was a 40-yard FG from Succop. The nearest the Chiefs offense got to the end zone was reaching the 22-yard line, setting up the field goal.

The defense got the ball back for the offense and Palko drove them to the Pittsburgh 37-yard line, but then threw his third interception and ending the Chiefs comeback attempt.

“We can’t have it happen in critical situations like that because that’s what ultimately beat us,” Haley said. “Everything else aside, we were in a position to win the game.”

14 Responses to “Chiefs Help Steelers To A 13-9 Victory”

  • November 28, 2011  - Michael says:

    Hey Bob, I’ve got an idea.

    Maybe you should march your fat sorry ass back to Pittsburgh where you can feel more free to kiss Steeler fanny and write even more condescending articles about the Chiefs than we’ve been reading all this week.

    Don’t plan on having any subscription money from me next year. I’m sick of your Steeler-loving butt.

  • November 28, 2011  - Chuck says:

    Sunday should be very interesting. Orton vs his old teammates. Can he learn the Playbook by then??? Iam guessing he plays. Palko is not the answer.

  • November 28, 2011  - aPauled says:

    I think Bob’s point was that the Steelers have guys stepping in and they don’t miss a beat. The S comes in and leads the team in tackles. They move G to C and insert a G and get the job done. The Chiefs put in Gaither for one play and he jumps off sides.

    The Chiefs have to get to that point where an injury or two doesn’t take us out of winning games. The Chiefs don’t have much depth and when we do put guys in…they are unprepared to play sometimes in the game and other times…in the NFL. Sunday night was a stark contrast of how to build/prepare a team (Steelers) and how not to.

  • November 28, 2011  - Steve says:

    Bob – as your article clearly pointed out, Pittsburgh demonstrated what depth of talent looks like. The Chiefs don’t have many “starters in waiting” and that needs to be considered in weighing Haley’s contract extension. Although he can be faulted for some things, he has coaxed a lot out of the talent he has been given.

  • November 28, 2011  - Chiefs Losing Streak Reaches 4 Games : says:

    [...] GAME STORY: Chiefs help Steelers to a victory. [...]

  • November 28, 2011  - Michael says:

    The Squealers have had many years to build up the depth on their team. The Chiefs are in year two or three of a complete revamping of their roster.

    To compare the two situations is comparable to Blob Gretz’s reasoning ability. Grow an IQ.

  • November 28, 2011  - chewbone says:

    Michael I have been a chiefs fan since they came to KC, but like Bob I also admire an organization like the Steelers and Pats who have managed to find a way to get into the playoffs almost every year and even have more than one superbowl ring along the way. Under the Herm and Haley era we keep setting eith a Chiefs or NFL record for “bad” every few games and I think we are on another stretch to do similar in terms of “number of quarters played withour a TD by the offense”.
    As we all know this has been a lot of bad football, yet for the past few years we have been $ millions under the cap. My bet is that Scott P. (behind closed doors) told Clark Hunt he could put a competitive football team on the field and save Clark money at the sametime. If you want to vent your frustration don’t take it out on Bob, but focus instead on the Chiefs GM, who for some reason seems to be getting a “pass”.

  • November 28, 2011  - napahank says:

    I fall somewhere in between Michael and Chewbone. The Steelers (and Pats, Green Bay) have had many years to build front line (starters) mostly through the draft and injury replacement/heir apparents also through the draft (mostly). This takes time and only happens when the head coach is on a team more than three to four years at a time…if you are going to build this way.

    In contrast, Vermeil took the Chiefs and added free agents that IF, IF,IF they develop chemistry together they can win for the short haul but will age quicker than you can replace them and also you drain your cap on high priced free agents leaving you with cheap scrubs as backups.

    I don’t fault Pioli/Hunt for not spending big bucks on a high priced free agent but you need to go after more aggressively the free agents you are confident fit what you want (keeping in mind you can’t force a free agent to sign with you).

    Finally, if the draft is the primary tool for starters and “future starters” then a coach needs to stay in place for several years-especially a first time head coach.

  • November 28, 2011  - David says:

    I agree with chewbone, Michael, your anger is misplaced. Bob is simply calling it like he sees it. Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli have also talked publicly about wanting to emulate the Steelers and/or Patriots commitment to excellence and winning traditions. The problem is that to-date, it’s been all talk. It’s sad and frustrating that our owner and GM haven’t been more aggressive in getting talent into KC. Hunt and Pioli have tons of cap room and have been lethargic at best / comatose at worst in the FA market over the last couple of years. Picking up / overpaying for Kyle Orton (who is clearly not a long term answer for KC ) to come in a play the most brutal remaining schedule in the NFL when he struggled to win games against much lesser opponents while in Denver shows that the current administration is more concerned about placating the fan base than actually winning games. I believe that $2.5M could have been better spent much earlier in the season and possibly made more of an impact. As a life-long Chiefs fan, it is demoralizing to watch this continued manipulation of the fans. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be one of the truly talented players on this team whose owner and GM are more concerned with the bottom line than building a winning organization. My hat is off to the handful of professionals that keep playing to their hearts out for us regardless of the lack of commitment by the front office to surround them with players who could match their talent/ intensity and potentially deliver a long overdue championship to this city.

  • November 28, 2011  - Michael says:

    I think those of you siding with Blob are still missing my point. The Chiefs and the Squealers (or the Pats, or the Packers, etc.) are at different stages of their development. The others are at a point of completion, and have developed their starting rosters as well as their depth. The Chiefs are still in the process of rebuilding, and while they had made progress towards revamping the starters, they were still short on depth. Thus, a year of catastrophic injury affects them much more deeply than a well-entrenched 53. Hopefully in another year or two, their roster will be a little more comparable to some of the powerhouses around the league.

  • November 28, 2011  - el cid says:

    Do not believe the Chiefs have ever used the word “rebuilding”, the prefer the term “work in progress”. And they are. Just do not see the “another year or two” these Chiefs will be comparable to some of the powerhouses but I am good with it if they do. Except for the Bob blast, I am with you Mikey, I guess.

  • November 28, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Lack of depth has been painly apparent all year. But I was there Sunday night and the game was fun. Defense played very well but we don’t have an offense. We were in the game, despite Palko, until the last fourty seconds. With Cassel/Orton they can remaine a work in progess but they won’t make it to the top until they get a first round quarterback.

  • November 28, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    One last thing about the game. Half of the fans there were wearing black and gold, not red. Means a lot of season ticket holders sold their seats. If you are enough of a fan to buy the tickets why would you not go to the games to suppoprt your team instead of selling them to the fans of the other team. Those that did sell them should of been forced to see what Arrowhead looked like on Sunday night.

  • November 29, 2011  - Petey says:

    Hey Michael, suggestion for you….how about you leave the name calling to the first and second graders. Maybe try to act like an adult?

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