The Kansas City Chiefs faced a must-win in Pittsburgh but couldn't do anything as the Steelers beat the Chiefs, 20-12. The Chiefs remain alive for the playoffs if the Houston Texans hold on to beat the Baltimore Ravens. But the Chiefs now need a lot of help to make it in. If Chiefs beat the Chargers, and the Texans lose to the Jaguars and the Browns beat the Ravens next week, the Chiefs are in.
The frustrating part of this game --besides all of it -- was the Steelers five-plus minute drive in the fourth quarter, capped off with a field goal to make it a two score game. That was a clinic on how you FINISH a game. The Chiefs have been unable to do that enough this year.
Final stats are here. Alex Smith's first 300-yard game in the regular season for the Chiefs is notable.
Let's take a look at what we learned.
Chiefs lost this game in the red zone
That's what this comes down to. The Chiefs had the ball inside the Steelers 12-yard line on four occasions. They walked away with six points. That's why the Chiefs lost this game. They were actually able to move the ball well. Look at Smith's numbers -- he threw for 311 yards. The Chiefs lost this game because they kicked field goals in the red zone instead of scoring touchdowns.
The Chiefs also lost this game at the line of scrimmage
The Chiefs offensive line had a few games this year where they looked good. A few more where they looked average. But they have had way too many games where the line has fallen apart. Yes, Alex Smith has some responsibility in this, of course. But you also need to point out that the Chiefs offensive line is not very good. When the Chiefs got into the second half and had to move the ball down the field, they were unable to do so because the offensive line gave them no time (not that Smith has proven he can consistently go deep anyway). Jeff Linkenbach was responsible for the first two sacks. Eric Fisher tripped which let a linebacker run unblocked to Smith. It was not a good day for the offensive line.
Once again, questionable calls headline the day
It seemed that any time CBS' Mike Carey said that a play call was correct, it was wrong. And when he said it was wrong, the refs said it was right. That's the type of day it was as the NFL referees once again headline the day. De'Anthony Thomas appeared to pick up a critical first down late in the first half. But the refs, who initially ruled it a first down, overturned the call on review and said that DAT was short. The Chiefs went for it on fourth down but did not get it, costing them points.
The play that seemed to hurt the Chiefs the most was the Jamaal Charles fumble call. It appeared that Charles was down before he fumbled but the refs upheld their call that it was a fumble. CBS announcer Greg Gumbel said it was an inaccurate call, too. That gave the Steelers the ball back as they held a 10-6 lead, and went on to score to make it 17-6.
To be fair, the Chiefs benefited from a major call as well. The Chiefs came up short on 3rd and 17 but the refs called a personal foul for taunting on the Steelers. It was obviously a bad call but it gave the Chiefs new life on teh drive.
Andy Reid decides to go for it ... right decision?
With 27 seconds left in the first half, the Chiefs faced a fourth and inches in the red zone. Should the Chiefs kick the field goal or go for it? They decided to go for it and they were stuffed on fourth down. The Chiefs got the ball to start the second half so some thought the Chiefs should've kicked the field goal because of that. I still thought going for it was a fine call.
Went back and looked at the counter play. Sherman has ILB, Fasano has kickout. Fisher needed to take #94 who ended up making tackle.— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) December 21, 2014
Unfortunately for the Chiefs, those three points look very big right now. I still think it was the right move to go for it because inches is nothing and the Chiefs should be able to pick it up.
Still no WR touchdowns
But they were close.
So close to a Chiefs WR touchdown! pic.twitter.com/vnPo0q1501— Mike Tunison (@xmasape) December 21, 2014
A fake finally goes Chiefs way
The Chiefs were burnt by fake punts against the 49ers and Broncos. Last week, they tried their own fake / non-fake / whatever that was really just a punt. FINALLY, the Chiefs had a fake go their way when they faked a field goal and picked up the first down. The snap was pitched to Travis Kelce, who hit the corner and was able to pick up just enough for the first down. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the drive resulted in a field goal and not a touchdown.
Observations during the game
Phillip Gaines left the game early due to an illness.
Martavius Bryant burned Chris Owens for 43 yards on the third play of the game.
That was your guy Dee Ford forcing ball out of Big Ben's hands. Refs rule it incomplete pass, not fumble.— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) December 21, 2014
CBS' Mike Carey saying he would've called it a fumble. Says Andy should've challenged— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) December 21, 2014
Travis Kelce was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct but I think he was right to rip the guy off of Jamaal Charles and throw him to the ground. The Steelers player was bending Jamaal the wrong way.
This holding call on Ron Parker gave the Steelers a fresh set of downs. Chiefs fans didn't like the call...
Albert Wilson beat his man on a deep pass but Smith, who was hit as he threw because of a missed block by Jamaal, missed him. It would have been a touchdown.
So far, the #Chiefs have reached the Pittsburgh 8, 4 and 12 without scoring a TD.— Randy Covitz (@randycovitz) December 21, 2014
The Chiefs had 10 defenders on the field on one play. Sean Smith broke up a pass in the end zone.
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