In hindsight, it may go somewhat unnoticed, but the Pittsburgh Steelers ended up playing this game with a lot of replacement parts. In fact, the biggest person missing from this game ended up being on the other sideline, as Chiefs cornerback Phillip Gaines’ absence really helped to open things up for Pittsburgh’s offense, which produced well over 400 yards in efficient fashion on the night.
Perhaps the best performance of all among the replacement players—and maybe one of the better performance turned in all around—came courtesy of first-year offensive lineman B.J. Finney, who made his first career start against the Chiefs in place of Ramon Foster at left guard.
Oh, and by the way, he did so after getting his finger caught in a teammate’s facemask on Thursday, which forced him to leave practice for the day, but he was able to return to make the start, and he certainly got the most out of his playing time. But for the love of all that is fair in this world, please, Mike Tomlin, don’t put Chris Hubbard in at center if Finney is available.
Also performing more than admirably upon initial inspection was another first-year player, safety Jordan Dangerfield, who finally made this year’s 53-man roster after spending the past two offseasons with the Steelers, and in his fourth attempt overall to make a roster.
Dangerfield saw his first ever snaps on defense last night due to the fact that starting strong safety Robert Golden suffered a hamstring injury last week that kept him out of this game. He chipped in his part with five tackles over the course of the game, although I do not believe he played every snap.
Also sidelined pretty much for the night was rookie safety Sean Davis, who was dressed after finishing the week off listed as questionable on the injury report—but of course the seven inactive players were all ruled out with injuries, so he would have dressed by default.
Of course, Vince Williams started in place of Ryan Shazier at inside linebacker, but there was nothing new in that, as he has started nearly a season’s worth of games over the course of his three previous seasons.
He did make the most of this one, however, as he led all defenders on both teams in a landslide with 15 tackles, and he also notched the first solo sack of his career, albeit a soft one. He recorded a shared sack last season.
With Eli Rogers out, Sammie Coates stepped up with the best game of his career, and though Markus Wheaton had just one reception, it came in the form of a 30-yard touchdown pass, which at the time gave the Steelers a 36-point lead.
On the flip side, Pittsburgh did get one starting piece back, and as I wrote about last night, Le’Veon Bell was excellent, posting 178 total yards on 23 touches. He, at least, didn’t need any time to warm up to hit his stride.