The Steelers and Chiefs have played a sloppy half of football so far, particularly in the first quarter, with a lot of balls ending up on the ground. At halftime, it’s 7-7, with a Jaylen Samuels touchdown run. Both Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs had their moments under center, the latter more erratic. He hit on some big throws, but also missed the short ones and threw an interception with goal to go toward the end of the half.
The Chiefs were backed up due to a penalty off the opening kickoff, but had a big third-down conversion a few plays in to move the chains. Brian Allen missed a tackle on third and short to give up the first down across midfield.
Shurmur underthrew his receiver on the first play in Steelers territory down the middle of the field. A hold brought back the next play. Hilton was in coverage on a 15-yard pass, incomplete. Hilton slapped the ball as it was going over the receiver’s head. On third and 20, Casey Sayles dragged Shurmur down after a short gain as he tried to scramble out of the pocket.
Diontae Spencer back to receive the punt, fielded it at the 14 and returned it beyond the 50, breaking a couple of tackles along the way. He has had three solid returns in the first seven quarters of the preseason, but will need to continue that if he has any hope of making the team.
Taking over at the Chiefs’ 47, Dobbs handed off on first down to Benny Snell, who had one of his best runs of the preseason so far for eight. He pushed ahead for one on second down, and got it again short of the conversion, though barely. On fourth and inches, Snell was almost tackled in the backfield but broke a tackle for about five yards…but a hold on Kevin Rader backed them up 10 yards, resulting in them punting instead. The tight end lines are slim, remember.
Ian Berryman had a pretty strong punt, bouncing near the 10-yard line and rolling out of bounds at the 13. That’s the sort of effort he needs to challenge Jordan Berry. Last week, he booted a kick 66 yards, but it landed in the end zone for a touchback.
Robert Spillane was in on the tackle for three yards on first down. Shurmur had to get the ball out quick on second down, throwing up a jump ball in Justin Layne’s direction, incomplete. On third and seven, Hilton, playing safety, put a big hit on the tight end to break up a big third-down conversion. Spencer made another tackler miss on the next punt, though a short return.
From the 40, Dobbs launched a long ball for Washington, but he was covered well. Trey Edmunds had good pass protection on the play. Edmunds got the carry on second down, picking up four. On third and six, Washington made a great play to get out of an initial tackle near the line of scrimmage, able to break upfield, but was still dragged down just shy of the first down. Going for it on fourth down, Snell easily converted standing.
Dobbs used his legs to escape pressure before pulling up and throwing complete to Rader for about 11 across midfield. Edmunds one-cut to pick up about five, but he was stuffed on second down. Dobbs made an absolutely incredible play to convert on third down, shaking two would-be sacks in the backfield before showing excellent persistence fighing for first-down yardage. It may arguably the best play of his career to date, in my opinion.
Soon after, Dobbs hit Diontae Johnson for a deep touchdown pass, but the initial ruling was for offensive pass interference. Mike Tomlin challenged the call. It was one of those plays that would have stood as called on the field regardless of what the original call was. PI is supposed to have an even higher standard and I don’t have a problem with this not being overturned.
Now third and 21, Dobbs threw underneath to Rader for just a short gain to get into a manageable field goal range. Matthew Wright made the field goal from 46 to make it 10-7.
The coverage on the ensuing kick return limited the returner to the 18. Cameron Sutton made the strong tackle in the open field on a bubble screen for a loss. On second down, After a false start, the back got free for a decent gain needing 18 to make it third and seven. Ulysees Gilbert III allowed the reception but held the tight end a couple yards shy of the first. Spencer fair caught the next punt.
Dobbs gave way to Devlin Hodges for the final 10 minutes of regulation with a 10-7 lead. Taking over at the 20, off play action, he slung a pass to Tevin Jones along the right sideline, incomplete. Malik Williams picked up about five on second down. Now third and medium, Hodges showed patience and aggression, passing up a shorter target for Johnson further downfield for the conversion to the 39.
Still Williams, he showed good physicality for about nine off the right side, fighting through a defender for extra yardage. He got the first down after making a tackler miss behind the line of scrimmage.
Diontae Spencer got a shot with an end-around, Williams getting the handoff and pitching it to the receiver. He cut between two defenders and got upfield for a chunk play down to the 29 of the Chiefs. After a pair of Williams carries made it third and five, Johnson made an absolutely fantastic touchdown reception, diving to the ground around the defender, who had his back turned, on a deep shot from Hodges. It was reviewed, as the ball did hit the ground, but it was determined that the ball didn’t shift in a way that resulted in the receiver losing possession.
Tuzar Skipper got himself a sack late in the game. Three plays later, on fourth down, the quarterback scrambled for the first down around Skipper. From the Steelers’ 43, after an incompletion and a short screen, Shurmur hit his tight end down the seam between three defenders, but he was hit hard, losing the ball, recovered by Tegray Scales. Both P.J. Locke and Marcus Allen laid the hits that dislodged the ball.
Hodges still in, the Steelers ran heavy, Travon McMillian in to finish the game. Tackled after a short gain twice, Hodges went play action on third down, nearly completing to Johnny Holton. It was underthrown and the defender was able to come in and contest the pass to break it up. Berry’s punt was fielded at the 41 with a short return to the 45. An illegal shift added five yards to midfield.
Dravon Askew-Henry has been in playing in the slot. Locke forced an incompletion on second and one with the tackle…or at least knocked the ball out for a fumble. Askew-Henry got beat deep but the ball was overthrown in the end zone, but he nearly jumped a route for an interception a play later. Now third down, Skipper gave chase, possibly forcing a low incompletion down the middle of the field. Spillane put a hit on the quarterback as well, who left the game injured.
Skipper jumped offside for a neutral zone infraction on fourth down. They did get the conversion with no timeouts left, time ticking down to three seconds before the snap. Justin Layne was in on the defense on a toss to the end zone that fell incomplete to end the game, 17-7.