Steelers Report Card: Game 11 vs. Chiefs

Gerry Dulac grades the Steelers' effort Sunday in their victory against Kansas City

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A fractured right thumb did not appear to bother Ben Roethlisberger, especially on the opening series when he completed five of six passes for 76 yards. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 127 yards in the first half, but the offense failed to take advantage of good field position after three takeaways by the defense. And it didn't get any better in the second half -- a poor throw into double coverage was picked.


The Steelers didn't attack the league's 28th ranked rush defense as much as they should have in the first half, rushing 13 times for 53 yards. Rashard Mendenhall had 21 yards on six carries in the first half and finished with 57 yards on 17 attempts. Mistakes hurt the offense in the first half, including Mewelde Moore's fumble. Moore had a couple big plays, though, on the field-goal drive at the end of the half.


Probably the most notable accomplishment was Hines Ward starting and catching four passes for 21 yards. Antonio Brown had two of his four catches for 51 yards that ended with Moore's fumble in the end zone and TE Heath Miller had a costly holding penalty that wiped out a 21-yard Mendenhall run. TE Weslye Saunders made a nice catch in the back of the end zone on his 2-yard TD.


More juggling up front, but that wasn't to blame for some of the sloppy protection. Doug Legursky, who replaced Chris Kemoeatu as the starting LG, moved to center in the second quarter because Maurkice Pouncey was sick. It was a tough first half for LT Max Starks, who gave up a sack and had two penalties. The Chiefs had an AFC-low 12 sacks in 10 games but had two against Roethlisberger.


The line appeared to settle down after allowing the Chiefs to rush for 19 yards on five of the first six plays that resulted in a field goal. But then they let the Chiefs control the ball for 13 plays on a field-goal drive that made it 13-9. And letting the Chiefs have two long drives late in the fourth quarter was inexcusable for a defense that has made a habit of blowing leads. Good thing for DE Brett Keisel, who recovered a fumble.


Too many underneath passes and not enough pressure on QB Tyler Palko allowed a bad Chiefs offense to hang in the game. The Steelers pressured Palko into bad throws but didn't register a sack until Jason Worilds got his first of the season late in the third quarter. ILB Lawrence Timmons made a nice play to blow up a wildcat run on third-and-1. Worilds was the best linebacker on the field.


Three interceptions in one game after just four in the first 10 sounds good, but Palko threw the ball right to Ike Taylor and Ryan Mundy on the first two. CB Keenan Lewis made a nice leaping pick to end a final threat. After having only six takeaways in the first 10 games, the Steelers had three in the first half. Mundy was replacing S Troy Polamalu, who left the game in the first quarter with a head injury.


The Steelers didn't make any splash plays in the return game, but their coverage units were solid again. Shaun Suisham kicked a pair of field goals in the first half, including a 49-yarder with no time remaining to give the Steelers a 13-6 lead. Not a good move all the way around when Steelers wasted a timeout and P Jeremy Kapinos punted into the end zone from KC 39.


A sloppy performance against a team that came within 37 yards of pulling an embarrassing upset is not exactly encouraging. Too many gaffes in the first half cost the Steelers several scoring chances, but they benefitted from two KC defensive holding penalties on their lone TD drive. A defense that had just six takeaways in the first 10 games came up with three in the first half, even though it led to only 10 points.

Gerry Dulac: ; twitter: @gerrydulac


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