Good Defensive Effort Wasted in Loss

From Arrowhead Stadium

If you had told the Chiefs defense during Sunday’s pre-game meal that they would hold the Pittsburgh Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger to one touchdown, 3.9 yards per carry in the running game and only one pass play of more than 20 yards, they would have considered victory guaranteed.

“Yeah, I would have thought that would be a winning night for us,” said FS Kendrick Lewis, as the Chiefs defense did all that but ended up on the losing end of 13-9. “Any time you hold an offense of that caliber to one touchdown and three field goals, you know you did a great job. That was our main goal, to keep those guys out of the end zone.”

With the exception of a two-yard scoring pass from Roethlisberger to little used TE Wesley Saunders; the Steelers did not find the end zone. On 11 possessions, they were in Chiefs territory eight times. They got inside the Chiefs 10-yard line three times and came always with a field goal and a touchdown. The third time they fumbled.

Ultimately, the Chiefs bend-but-don’t-break defense did not break. Pittsburgh had 290 yards in offense, or 93 yards less than their average for the season coming into the game. With the exception of WR Antonio Brown, all the Steelers weapons were kept under wraps. Roethlisberger’s favorite targets are WR Mike Wallace, Brown, TE Heath Miller and WR Hines Ward. Against the Chiefs, here’s what they did:

  • Wallace caught two passes for 17 yards.
  • Brown had four receptions for 81 yards.
  • Miller had one catch for 20 yards.
  • Ward caught four passes for 21 yards.

“I give the Chiefs defense credit for being disruptive,” Roethlisberger said. “They’re a good football team with a good defense. It was loud out there. It’s tough. You’re happy to get the win.”

The pass rush got Roethlisberger on the ground just once that sack coming from DL Amon Gordon. But they hit him quite a few times and forced him out of his comfort zone several times along the way.

“We did a really good job of disrupting and keeping Ben moving a bit,” said head coach Todd Haley. “We were able to keep him under constant pressure.”

Miller had his catch in the first Pittsburgh possession and then disappeared, as Roethlisberger threw his way only one more time.

“Jon McGraw was on him for a little bit and Travis Daniels was on him for a little while,” said Lewis. “Those guys did a tremendous job. It was the guys up front, the front seven that did a great job. They were getting pressure and that made our job much easier.”

Out of their base defense, the Chiefs used three other schemes:

  • Their normal sub-defense where DL Wallace Gilberry and Allen Bailey, along with CBs Javier Arenas and Travis Daniels come in and NT Kelly Gregg, DEs Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson and ILB Jovan Belcher leave the field.
  • A new sub defense where Belcher stays and Daniels does not come in.
  • A seven defensive back alignment that is essentially a 1-2-7, with Sabby Piscitelli joining the secondary and Bailey does not come in on the line.

In the running game, the Steelers managed only 108 yards, with Rashard Mendenhall leading the way with 57 yards, but on 17 carries for a 3.4-yard average.

“We did a good job of keeping their running game under wraps,” said LB Derrick Johnson. “They were not able to use it to run the clock. We did a good job on third downs (Pittsburgh was 3 of 11 for 27 percent) and we did a pretty good job of getting them under control when they got near the end zone (Steelers were one of three in red zone efficiency.)”

4 Responses to “Good Defensive Effort Wasted in Loss”

  • November 28, 2011  - Justin says:

    I am impressed with the defensive effort. Now let’s do that all the time – not just for a half or one game here, one game there. It seems to be the only bright spot for this team.

    Pioli has really screwed the pooch here. We have a ton of effort guys but no players. We need talented players on both sides of the ball. Too bad he won’t take the blame and Haley will.

  • November 28, 2011  - Tim says:

    Defense played outstanding! It was amazing how many snaps were taken inside our own 35 in the first half w/ that few of points scored. Having said that, it doesn’t in any way diminish our weakness at the Safety position. Additionally, I’m prepared to say Tysoon Jackson just isn’t going to cut it. On many pass rushes, he doesn’t even try to get there. He engages a blocker & its a standoff.

  • November 28, 2011  - Craig says:

    Well, this season is reminding me of the first year when Haley was here and calling the plays. Respectable defense and no offense. Poor management decisions are imploding the team. Maybe Haley is just not ready for head coach? Go chiefs!

  • November 28, 2011  - Kenny says:

    Great game plan and it was well executed. Nice to some of the rookies step up.

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