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Film Review: How the Chiefs’ defensive line shined against Pittsburgh

The Chiefs defense controlled the line of scrimmage — and the game — against the Steelers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive line was slated as one of the deepest units on the team way back in the preseason. In Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, that depth was on display.

A 2021 free-agent acquisition, defensive tackle Jarran Reed has not been with Kansas City very long, but his impact on the team cannot be ignored. He landed in Kansas City after being cut by Seattle back in March.

Here, we see the quick-twitch Reed possesses and what makes him a great addition to the defense. Reed side steps the center aided by a killer swim move sending the Steelers snapper to the ground. Reed is then able to keep the guard at bay with his off-shoulder as he closes the gap on running back Najee Harris for no gain.

Frank Clark, another former Seahawk, has really been a force for the Chiefs during this winning stretch. He has 3.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits since the Chiefs’ Week 8 win over the New YorkGiants. One of those sacks he notched this past week against Ben Roethlisberger.

Clark gets into the chest of the left tackle and drives him back. He then sheds him again when Roethlisberger resets and is able to take down the veteran. Reed actually reaches Ben first but Frank is the one who cleans up the play.

Frank did have a play or two that could’ve been executed better, but overall, he had a good game. This example here shows Clark committing too far inside, allowing the pulling tight end to gain leverage to pin him inside. This gives ample cutback room for Harris and linebacker Anthony Hitchens gets too caught up in the traffic to get hands on the ballcarrier.

Chris Jones is so incredibly fun to watch play football. He is able to shed blockers so quickly, and here, he penetrates so fast he nearly meets Harris before the play gets off the ground. Unfortunately, Jones’ body angle and momentum prevent him from completing the tackle.

Clark has a shot to get him too but is also unsuccessful. It kind of looks like Clark is expecting Jones to make the play and eases up a bit and it is too late for Clark to react once Harris breaks Jones’ tackle.

Melvin Ingram played a former team for the second straight week. Here, we see the damage and havoc that can be wreaked when Jones and Ingram play next to each other. The Chiefs must have seen something on film because the bull rush was utilized on the Steelers' left tackle numerous times.

Ingram gets completely into the chest of rookie Dan Moore while Jones outmaneuvers the guard with quick hands. Check out the way he gets his shoulders turned to squeeze through the gap.

Harris still had a productive day even with the porous offensive line in front of him. The Chiefs handled the line of scrimmage throughout the contest and the lead late in the game gave the defensive line depth a chance to get quality reps.

There is simply nowhere to go for No. 22, and eventually, he gets swallowed up.

We will end with one of the better defensive plays of 2021.

This one comes from Tershawn Wharton, as he added to the game-long woes for Steelers rookie center Kendrick Green. Wharton showed off that quickness and looks a little like Jones with how fast he gets in the backfield.

With Roethlisberger’s back turned to the play, he has no clue of the impending doom. Wharton slightly bites on the Harris action but as soon as he spots the ball still in Roethlisberger’s hands, he knocks it loose for Reed to make the scoop.

The bottom line

The Chiefs have earned the right to be called one of the best defensive units in football and the defensive line deserves kudos for the turnaround.

The upcoming matchup with the Bengals could be another good outing for the front four. They face a Bengals offensive line that isn’t without their issues. A win could mean the No. 1 seed, so even though Cincinnati is coming in hot, Spagnuolo’s boys will cool them right down.

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