The Pittsburgh Steelers always seem to suffer one of these kinds of losses, don’t they?
Martavis Bryant: Bryant continues to show a nose for the end zone, scoring for the 11th time in 12 career games. His TD was an eventful one but was able to secure the ball and get his feet down on a juggling grab that got the Steelers back into the game.
Antonio Brown: There’s still no Ben Roethlisberger but Brown will probably take it. He finally got back to form with a six catch, 124 yard performance today. Back to his old self making spectacular catches, he schooled rookie cornerback Marcus Peters. He was the only Steeler over 50 yards receiving.
Le’Veon Bell: Another Killer B. Bell’s performance is expected at this point and there was nothing especially over the top about it. But a 121 yard rushing performance, with another highlight-reel 42 yard scamper included, gets you on this list. Not bad for a guy who didn’t touch the ball for over an entire quarter.
Marcus Gilbert: Gilbert continues to play well. He faced his toughest task of the season, squaring off against Justin Houston. The NFL’s sack leader from a year ago was held in check, registering just two tackles and zero sacks. It wasn’t as if the Steelers didn’t have to throw, either. Jones’ dropped back over 30 times.
Mike Mitchell: I didn’t add him on this list last week simply because there were so many players worthy. In a week with a couple less options, it’s a great time to recognize his strong play. He’s become the reliable tackler the team and fans hoped he’d become. He dishes out big hits without the frustrating penalties. Mitchell finished second on the team with six tackles.
Cam Heyward: Even without his partner in crime Stephon Tuitt, Heyward gave the Kansas City Chiefs’ fits. He racked up his third sack of the season and was credited with another QB hit. His heart and hustle was on full display again. Big man that can and wants to run hard. Wonderful combination.
Pass Rush: Alex Smith was sacked twice but it sure didn’t feel like it. For a team who had given up 23 sacks already, Smith was afforded a clean pocket to go to work from on most dropbacks Sunday. That may be the most shocking element of the game. Maybe we all underestimated the loss of Tuitt.
Third Down Offense: The Steelers had gotten lucky to do objectively poor on third down in the last two weeks, still coming away with victories, but it finally came back to bite them. 2/10 tells you all you need to know, and both of the conversions came in the first quarter. That will obviously improve when Roethlisberger returns, but you can’t point to this stat – along with three turnovers – as huge reasons why the Steelers fell today.
Tackling: Rev up that column again, Jon Ledyard. A week after their bets tackling effort, the Steelers struggled to wrangle Chiefs’ down. The best example came on Charcandrick West’s 36 yard run that led to the Chiefs’ final TD, putting them up 23-13. Look for Jon’s article in the morning for the full breakdown.
Antwon Blake: A repeat offender to this list, Blake’s woes continues. He showed poor tackling form on the miss that resulted in him having to be checked for a concussion. He plays catch points well but too often, he isn’t in a position to play them. The vast majority of fans don’t like Blake and are yearning to see Brandon Boykin. It’s understandable but don’t count on it happening. Let the hate floweth over in the comments.
Alejandro Villanueva: For the most part, Ali – making his first career start – went unnoticed. But he allowed pressure on the Bryant TD and looked as bad as an offensive tackle can on the Tamba Hali sack/forced fumble that ended the game. I’m sure he’ll bounce back, but any time a tackle gives that up – especially in a crucial moment – you almost have to put him on this list.