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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Post-Kansas City thoughts

Playoffs? We can now talk about playoffs?

Yep.

The Steelers locked up their spot in the 2014 AFC postseason with their victory Sunday over the Chiefs. The final score in this one was only 20-12, but it might as well have been 100-0.

The Steelers and Chiefs could have played another eight quarters and Kansas City wouldn't have gotten into the end zone.

Pittsburgh's defense was that good in this game.

A season-high six sacks. Holding Jamaal Charles to 29 yards rushing.

Those were a couple of highlights. But the icing on the cake was Kansas City going 0-4 in the red zone.

Kansas City had the league's second-best offense in the red zone entering this game. But the Steelers held up all day against it.

The defense has now allowed 21, 20 and 12 points in the last three games. Given what this offense can do, that's winning football.

@ The Steelers just might - might - be playing the best overall football of any team in the AFC right now when you look at what they're doing on both sides of the ball.

Yes, the defense is still suspect and the offense goes in fits and spurts - despite its gaudy numbers - but if they beat the Bengals next week, they'll wrap up no worse than the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs.

@ I don't get the NFL sometimes. I have viewed the William Gay "taunting" penalty several times and am not quite sure who exactly he was supposed to be taunting.

Was it Lawrence Timmons? I don't know.

I'm no fan of taunting and I know it when I see it. That was not it.

@ James Harrison had his way with second-year left tackle Eric Fisher, the top pick in last year's draft.

Actually, the Steelers pretty much owned everyone on the Chiefs' offensive line.

The only thing that kept Alex Smith from being sacked 20 times in this game was Andy Reid's sideways passing game.

@ That short passing game, however, also resulted in the game's only turnover.

As we saw from the Steelers when they played the Jets and Anontio Brown fumbled when smacked from behind by a defensive lineman following a short pass over the middle, big guys running down small guys close to the line of scrimmage sometimes results in bad things.

In this case, it was 300-pound Stephon Tuitt destroying Charles and forcing a fumble that the Steelers recovered.

@ The Chiefs devoted a safety to Le'Veon Bell when he came out of the backfield as a receiver.

That, however, freed up tight end Heath Miller to catch seven passes for 68 yards.

That doesn't sound like a lot until you consider KC came into this game having allowed an NFL-low 43 receptions by tight ends this season.

Pick your poison with this team.

@ Martavis Bryan caught just one pass in this game, but it was a big one. Bryant got deep out of the slot for a 44-yard gain on Pittsburgh's first possession.

I thought offensive coordinator Todd Haley called a very good game. He mixed things up and Kansas City's defense never really got a finger on the pulse of what the Steelers were doing offensively.

Ben Roethlisberger was sacked just one time and though the Steelers produced just 68 rushing yards, they ran the ball effectively enough that KC had to respect it.

@ It's official. The Steelers and Bengals will play at 8:30 p.m. next Sunday. Place should be rocking.

17 comments:

adamg said...

The OL did a great job with KC interior DL. On Bell's TD, DeCastro bulldozed the DT. Mike Adams was strong as the "blocking TE". I don't recall hearing Huston or Hali's names much, if at all, on defense.

The offense should have had another TD if not for Palmer's drop in the endzone.

I thought Reid cost himself the game going for it at the end of the 1st half. KC was getting the ball to start the 3rd qtr, why not take the sure FG?

The taunting call was odd, but overall I think the calls evened up and the Steelers ended up on the better end.

Anonymous said...

Overall it was a good game against a good team. Haley did a good job of mixing it up and keeping the Chiefs off balance. Agree Adam, I was surprised that Reid did not elect to kick the field goal, never eschew points in a tight game.

Not only was the taunting call odd, but there were a couple of others as well. The td from Ben to Brown seemed like a personal foul for tripping was in order. Right before the two minute warning, the KC receiver seemed short of the first down marker, the graphic on the TV was 4th and 1. The next play Smith stumbled short of the original line of scrimmage, but when we came back from commercial break, it was second down. Odd to say the least, but the refs at least tried to make it close.

Win next week and a home playoff is at hand. Couldn’t think of a better belated Christmas present for the Steelers and their fans.

Greg W. said...

If you had told me the sack totals for each team were going to be 5 and 1, I would not have predicted the Steelers would have 5 and KC would have 1. What a terrific job the coaches and players have done to keep Ben clean while moving the ball with ease through the air. Great schemes, great decision-making, and great execution. I wonder if Munchak gets an offer to be OC somewhere next season or if Haley gets another shot at head coach. Here's hoping they stay if they do get offers. This offense may be the best of the Ben era and is nowhere near its peak. (Has anyone seen the way Romo and Dez Bryant have been in sync over the past few weeks, especially on the fades/jump balls in the end zone? I'm salivating over the possibility of that happening with Ben and Martavis once they get more playing time together.)

I love how the Steelers are back to stuffing the run. While still suspect against the pass, I think they are really just a CB away from playing dominant defense again. Looks like Deebo really benefited from a couple of weeks rest/healing.

The play action to Heath was a thing of beauty today. The Steelers have shown that if you sell out to stop Bell, they are going to beat you with the pass.

That leg whip/attempted trip against Ben was downright dirty. All this talk about protecting the QB and there's no flag there? How do they miss that? The league office better make sure Vance Walker has less disposable income to spend on Xmas presents this year.

Go Steelers!

Patrick said...

PLAYOFFS!

I give Tomlin a lot of criticism but I will say this team recently has been impressively coached and has executed accordingly. After watching Reid's asinine time management, its hard to imagine anyone doing worse.

Harrison was a beast this game and if the D can start to play well consistently, this team can play with anybody.

I think they destroy Cinci next week. And what a choke by Baltimore.

Dale Lolley said...

Actually, it was six sacks.

Anonymous said...

There is no way for Pittsburgh to catch up to Denver in strength of victory so they cannot get the #2 seed.

Dale Lolley said...

That just changed today, then. Because going into the weekend, the Steelers still had a shot at the 2 seed.

Greg W. said...

Six sacks?! Oh yeah. The refs didn't take one back like last week. Thanks, Dale for the correction and the blog!

adamg said...

I'm a little surprised NBC didn't take GB-Det for SNF. The Packers have just as loyal a following as the Steelers and Det hasn't had a year like this since about when Lebeau played there. Atl-Car is winner-take-all, too.

CBS must be mad as moving Pgh-Cin takes their best game while leaving FOX with both Det-GB and Atl-Car.

Bill in DC said...

Noted for next season is shaping up to be a tough road schedule: CIN, CLE, BAL, STL, SEA, KC, SD, and, with a win on Sunday, NE.

Glad to see D taking shape and the offense continue to evolve.

ibygeorge said...

Go Steelers!
I hope the no call tripping was because no ref saw it and not because it's non call.
Is there actually a list of body language taunts? I wonder if Gay said something.
I couldn't make out what got Foster so excited, other than getting pushed back roughly.
I was wondering why Bell wasn't getting dumped off to, great explanation, and great reactive play calling.
Is Spaeth's injury the reason that Bell is not making hay on the tight end power counter for the last 2 games? Or do defenses now have a scheme for it?

ibygeorge said...

Go Steelers!
I hope the no call tripping was because no ref saw it and not because it's non call.
Is there actually a list of body language taunts? I wonder if Gay said something.
I couldn't make out what got Foster so excited, other than getting pushed back roughly.
I was wondering why Bell wasn't getting dumped off to, great explanation, and great reactive play calling.
Is Spaeth's injury the reason that Bell is not making hay on the tight end power counter for the last 2 games? Or do defenses now have a scheme for it?

marc said...

great to see them headed back to the playoffs.

the offense did enough to win against a good defense. as dale said, pick your poison on how to defend the steelers right now. hope spaeth gets healthy soon.

the defense played their hearts out and deserve credit for keeping the chiefs out of the endzone. this game was a good matchup for them. the chief's weakness (hitting WR's downfield) is also the steeler's defensive weakness. they had guys open a couple times but missed. Mitchell keeps biting on the intermediate route leaving his CB's without any help. a better QB is going to expose that in the playoffs.

the leg whip is the second time this year (that I have seen) a steeler has been intentionally kicked by another player without a penalty being called. and how in the world could the back judge not see it when he has eyes on the QB the entire time? it's a joke. I know some of these refs are good, but many just suck. we'll see if there's a fine, I doubt it.

it was fun watching the ravens game. flacco was sucking it up and I told one of my son's, "watch, they're gonna start chucking hail Mary's" and sure enough flacco started throwing jump balls hoping for a penalty. you could see steve smith intentionally slowing down trying to draw contact from the DB, like a basketball player looking for contact on a shot attempt. how pathetic.

I'm hoping the steelers have found their groove and remain focused on the bengals, not just happy to be in the playoffs.

adamg said...

Thought Adams played very well in the 2nd TE role. You could see KC trying to keep outside contain on Bell, but that left the middle open for Miller that the Steelers then exploited.

IIRC Beachum got shoved to the ground and that's what set Foster off.

I actually felt the refs did ok. Thought they got the Charles fumble wrong as it looked like he knee was down before the ball came out. On of the local post-games, I thought someone said Gay's gesture looked like another one that the league considers taunting. It's a judgement call, so the best advice is to avoid any appearance of impropriety. OTOH, the TE didn't feel taunted as he was running off the field and not even looking at either Gay or Timmons.

adamg said...

STs haven't gotten much attention, but the last 2 weeks they've had really good plans against top KRs. Lots of complaining about Suisham not kicking the ball out of the endzone, but the shorter, higher KOs have gotten more starts inside the opponent's own 20.

Tom said...

The cross armed gesture Gay did is the same one that Martavis Bryant uses when he scores a TD. I've seen at least one other Steelers player use it I think it was Tuitt or another D-lineman recently, IIRC. Bryant has 7 TD's so he has struck that pose on 7 different occasions and we've never seen a taunting flag. William Gay didn't do anything more excessive than Bryant usually does. Inexcusable call..

Dale Lolley said...

Gay should not have been penalized. If that was something that players could be penalized for, every touchdown in the NFL would then be penalized.

Looking at the tape, he did not say anything, just made the crossed arms gesture at Timmons.