Peters and Gaines could be ready to play by Sunday night. It’s difficult to picture Peters being so sick that he wouldn’t be ready to play against Roethlisberger and Brown. It would be his first career game against the Pittsburgh quarterback. Roethlisberger missed the game against the Chiefs because of an injury last year, when Peters was a rookie.
The Chiefs could decide to move Peters around the field on Sunday night to shadow Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. But it’s more likely Peters will be stationed at his usual post and it will be up to Brown to find him, if that’s the matchup the Steelers want.
"I mean you can see the kickoff team talking, (saying) 10 is back there, so they have a plan for him to probably stay a little bit wider," Toub said. "We have to do a better job at designing and making better calls for him."
The play does help illustrate another point, though. Smith has just 14 yards rushing this year, his worst three-game stretch since 2014. His ability to break the pocket, pick up yards and keep drives going when nothing was open was among the biggest reasons the Chiefs won 11 straight games.
That just hasn't been there much this season, and Darron Lee's sack on this play is an example of what's happening. Lee was a spy, waiting behind the line of scrimmage for Smith to break the pocket. When that happened, he zoomed in and made the tackle. Smith was never going to be able to run for that first down, the way he may have a year ago. But he still could've gotten rid of the ball, and kept the Chiefs in field goal range.
Game plan: The screens and misdirections that accounted for more than half of the Eagles’ 301 yards passing last week were a result of the system Eagles coach Doug Pederson learned under Andy Reid in Kansas City. Expect more of the same from Smith, who will use quick passes and a running game to open the middle of the field for Kelce and even occasionally attack downfield. But the protection has not been very good for Smith, who has been sacked nine times.
The Chiefs didn't bring down Fitzpatrick, but they applied pressure, which helped create the takeaways.
"The objective is to always affect the quarterback," Sutton said. "And you do that in a million ways. The obvious one is to sack him, hit him. Sometimes you affect him with really tight coverage, sometimes with pocket pushing."
BACK TO BLITZBURGH? Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler has been reluctant to bring much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, preferring instead to drop seven or eight players into coverage to help protect a young secondary. It might be time for a change. Pittsburgh is 31st against the pass and is also last in sacks, the lone one on the record a harmless touch down of Cincinnati's Andy Dalton for no gain in Week 2. The Steelers didn't get close to Wentz and face one of the league's most mobile quarterbacks in Alex Smith.
But Football Outsiders is giving the Chiefs a 70.2 percent chance to make the playoffs. That's third in the AFC behind the 3-0 New England Patriots (84.6 percent) and the 3-0 Baltimore Ravens (74.2 percent). The Broncos, despite their one-game lead over the Chiefs, are fourth at 62.6 percent.
The problem is, this week's opponent — the Kansas City Chiefs — are a replica offensively of the Eagles, who used the screen pass effectively in exposing flaws in the Steelers defense. “If I was looking at the film, I would (do the same thing),” defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Thursday. “We have to correct some things to make sure we don't do some of the things we did last week in terms of awareness.”
The Steelers are 7-2 under Mike Tomlin coming off the first loss of a season. Pittsburgh is 14-7 in home primetime games since 2011. The Steelers are 5-2 against the Chiefs in primetime, and 1-0 at home. Pittsburgh is currently on a five-game winning streak on Sunday Night Football.
To tell you the truth, I’m not too worried about the figurative pain the Steelers experienced last weekend. Sure, it was the worst defeat in nearly 30 years, but every team is always one game away from an historically “worst” or “best” performance; when it happens, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will carry over to the following week. When a baseball team is on the wrong end of a no-hitter, or worse yet, a perfect game, does the hangover continue on into the next day? Rarely.
The Steelers' mantra is "next man up" for a reason. When injuries occur, when players are lost, the next player in line needs to not just occupy a position, but to make plays. The 2014 and 2015 Steelers were able to do just that, and it defined their season. The 2016 Steelers have fallen on some tough times, from an injury standpoint, and it will be on these fresh faces to step up and make plays in a winning effort. For some, the wait has been long and arduous, and their time to shine is just days away.