The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped to 4-3 after a 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, a game that marked the first NFL start for third-year and third-string quarterback Landry Jones.
While completing 16 of 29 passes for 209 yards, Jones wasn’t awful and certainly kept Pittsburgh in the game. However, he did look like a youngster making his first NFL start, as he threw two interceptions and fumbled the football away near the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter, when the Steelers were in Kansas City territory and looking for one last shot to pull off a miraculous comeback.
- But, while Jones didn’t look his best, the team as a whole didn’t play winning football on Sunday.
For example, on the Steelers second offensive series of the game, they faced a third and two from the Kansas City six yard-line. Jones found reserve back DeAngelo Williams open near the right sideline for what would have been at least a first down. Unfortunately, Williams couldn’t hold onto the pass, and Pittsburgh was forced to settle for a Chris Boswell 23-yard field goal to tie the score at three.
Also, while the defense wasn’t awful, there were no dynamic plays to speak of and only two sacks of quarterback Alex Smith, who had been taken to the turf 23 times coming into Sunday’s game. While Jones was turning the football over on three occasions, the defense didn’t come up with a single turnover for the first time since Week 1 in New England.
- Smith completed 21 of 32 passes on the day, for 251 yards and a score.
And, despite the absence of talented running back Jamaal Charles, who is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL, Pittsburgh allowed reserve back Charcandrick West to amass 110 yards on the ground and average five yards a carry. Obviously, the defense missed second-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who sat out Sunday’s game with an injury, but Ryan Shazier was back at inside linebacker. Unfortunately, neither he nor the rest of the unit could step up and make a splash play or two that could have turned the tide.
Having said all that, however, after falling behind 16-3 thanks to a one-yard touchdown by West with 4:23 left in the third quarter–a score that came on the heels of Jones’ second interception of the afternoon–Pittsburgh got right back in the game, when the offense drove 77 yards on the next series, a drive that culminated in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Martavis Bryant.
And after forcing a Kansas City punt on the ensuing drive, the Steelers were on the verge of taking the lead, when Le’Veon Bell, who rushed for 121 yards on 17 carries, broke off a 42-yard run down the Chiefs’ 13-yard line. A touchdown there, and Pittsburgh would have taken a 17-16 lead. Unfortunately, following a three-yard run by Bell and an incomplete pass on second and seven, Landry Jones was sacked on third down, and Boswell came on to hit a 36-yard field goal to make it 16-13, Kansas City, early in the final period.
The Chiefs then came right back on their next offensive series and quickly marched into Pittsburgh territory on a 26-yard completion to tight end Travis Kelce on third down, followed immediately by a 36-yard scamper by West down to the 16. Four plays later, Smith connected with receiver Chris Conley for a six-yard touchdown pass with 5:13 remaining in the fourth quarter to effectively put the game on ice.
Next up for the Steelers is a critical AFC North battle against the 6-0 Bengals next Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return after sitting out the past four games with a sprained MCL.