Steelers Vs. Chiefs: Beyond The Box Score – Week 4

While the box score is relatively informative it doesn’t always tell the whole story. Here are the plays and circumstances not covered in any box score that had a critical role in the outcome of the Pittsburgh Steelers week 4 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

On the Steelers first offensive play from scrimmage Ben Roethlisberger used a play action fake and threw a deep pass to wide out Sammie Coates. Chiefs corner Marcus Peters drew the assignment in coverage. Ben’s pass had plenty of air under it but was under thrown. Coates never lost focus. He kept his eyes on the ball, slowed down and make a great leaping 47-yard reception.

With five minutes left in the first quarter, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith tried to execute a screen pass that was tipped in the air by defensive end Cameron Heyward and intercepted by outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. The box score charts this as a pass defended by Heyward but he managed to deflect the pass while being blocked by Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher; the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.

Chris Boswell kicked off after the Steelers second score of the night with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter. Even though the ball was about four yards into the end zone Chiefs running back Knile Davis decided to attempt a return. The whole Steelers kickoff unit did an admiral job of shedding blocks and staying in their lanes leaving Davis with no crease to exploit. Instead, Davis began running laterally, then backwards, and was tackled by receiver and special teams ace Darrius Heyward-Bey at the Chiefs two-yard line. Heyward-Bey had one tackle on the night and it was a big one.

On 3rd and 1 with 2:30 left in the first half Roethlisberger dropped back to pass and his first option wasn’t open. He didn’t reset his feet and lofted a pass to wide receiver Antonio Brown who had run a shallow cross all the way across the field by this point. The ball was four inches off the turf and behind the speedy Brown.  He reached down and made the reception look easy, converting the first down.  While this went down as just another reception for Brown the difficulty level was extremely high, it displayed why he is one of the best receivers in the league, not to mention the catch kept a scoring drive alive.

With eight seconds left in the half the Chiefs had moved into Steelers territory and were going to attempt a 49-yard field goal with their reliable kicker Cairo Santos. It rained off and on for much of the game, but never harder than when Santos was going to attempt the field goal. Head Coach Mike Tomlin decided to “ice” Santos by calling a time out. The rain kept pouring and it made for a slick and water-logged ball. When it came time for the field goal attempt punter/holder Dustin Colquitt struggled handling the snap and getting the ball down in time resulting in a missed field goal and allowing the Steelers to take a shutout into half time.

With about ten minutes left in the 3rd quarter the Chiefs were facing a 3rd and 21 deep in their own territory. Smith threw a screen to Chiefs running back Spencer Ware who made two defenders miss, got solid blocking and looked like he might get a first down. But he was tackled by none other than Heyward 14 yards down field! A truly special tackle by a special defensive lineman.

1:24 remained in the 3rd quarter and the Chiefs had a 2nd and 4 from the Steelers 20-yard line. Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler decided to send a fifth pass rusher. It paid dividends, Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave lined up in the B gap and executed a slant and swim move allowing him to shoot through the A game with minimal resistance while outside linebacker Arthur Moats came off the edge unblocked which forced Smith to throw the ball away to avoid being sacked.  Hargrave flashed the pass rushing skills that intrigued the Steelers so much when they decided to draft him, even though Moats was credited with the QB hit.  But more importantly this showed improved execution in Hargrave’s game.

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