You should not believe anyone who says the Chiefs did not stink, or that they weren’t as bad as it’s being made out. Because stink is a generous adjective, and whoever’s making it out to be bad is probably not making it out to be bad enough.
They were not blown out, and even had a chance to win at the end, so wrap yourself in that blanket of lies if you want. But the truth is the Chiefs just lost at home to a team that basically did one thing — and one thing only — well.
The Steelers ran the ball.
“Coming off a physical game, you know you’re going to have another big divisional game [and] travel,’’ quarterback Alex Smith said after the Chiefs fell to 5-1 with a 19-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. “You’ve got all of those built-in excuses there to lean on. I think the positive is we’ve got a short week to try to get this bounce back and get this taste out of our mouth, if there is a positive.’’
The punt came after the Chiefs weren’t able to capitalize on a Ben Roethlisberger interception and went three-and-out. Coverage was perfect, and Akeem Hunt was able to grab the ball on the bounce and keep it out of the end zone, avoiding a touchback. His teammates downed it at the 1-yard line.
The Chiefs got some good news after their first loss: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill does not have a concussion, a source told PFT.
The Chiefs also don’t have that many backs, period. Akeem Hunt is behind West but he came to the team shortly before the season so it’s not like he has a ton of experience.
“They say never take anything personal, but when they run the ball on you the way they did, you have to,” inside linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “They were the tougher team today. We knew the mindset before the game — they weren’t afraid of us. They beat us twice last year, regardless of what happened with them with the Jags (last week).”
But I think what we saw, as much as anything, was a potential fatal flaw with the run defense further exposed (more on that later) and that the offense is a bit like the cliche analogy of a Ferrari — gorgeous and fast when running right, but fickle and useless when not.
The Chiefs now have a short week to figure out how they'll deal with their own adversity. They came into this game as the darlings of the NFL and they now have to travel to Oakland for a huge AFC West matchup with the Raiders on Thursday night. As exciting as Kansas City has been this season, they're now trying to cope with serious health concerns. Given the devastating hit Hill absorbed while returning a punt before Kansas City's last drive - one that left the second-year star in concussion protocol - the task of beating the Raiders just became that much harder.
Reason to mope: This is a beat-up football team getting ready to play a rivalry game on three days rest.
"Certainly when I got fired up, I thought [the hit] was pretty late,'' said Smith, who screamed something at Mitchell after the hit. "I mean, when you get hit in the back of your knee like that, I didn't understand how that happened. Certainly guys falling, rushing the quarterback, I get it when it's happening from the front and guys are trying hard. That one to me just seemed so weird to get hit that low coming from behind."
“I feel like I had the ball long enough, for two seconds, to call it a touchdown,” Harris said.
But if Harris had the ball to himself it was only briefly, and Steelers safety Sean Davis quickly got part of it.
“He made a great play on the ball,” Harris said. “(Davis’) hand was stuck between the ball and my hand. He made a good play in the end.”
With the Chiefs trailing 12-3 early in the fourth quarter and facing fourth and 4 at the Pittsburgh 2-yard-line, astute colleagues on the left and right of me were equally divided on the cost-benefit analysis of going for it vs. kicking to cut it to a one-score game.
But admirable as the audacity of going for it might be, the practical, logical thing to do absolutely was to kick.
Because if you need two more scores on a day you’ve had one in 45 minutes, best take the more sure thing.