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Team Grades: Steelers Stumble In 23-13 Loss To Chiefs

By Christina Rivers

The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Call it a trap game or just a disappointing overall performance; the Steelers left the stadium after a 23-13 loss, falling to 4-3 on the season. With Landry Jones at quarterback, the Steelers offense struggled to be consistent, especially in the passing game. The defense played stingy in the first half only to see a lack of pressure and proper tackling technique allow Alex Smith to hook up with Travis Kelce. In a game of two halves, the Steelers did not have momentum on their side and three turnovers killed a chance at a possible win.

Offense: C

In the first half of the game, the Steelers were less than spectacular on offense. As Jones struggled, so did the rest of the offense. Coming into the game as the starter didn't give Jones the same comfort he exhibited in the Week 6 win over the Arizona Cardinals. It wasn't until the Steelers had cut the Chiefs lead to 16-13 early in the final quarter, via a pass to Martavis Bryant, that the game became truly interesting. On a 19-yard corner slant, Bryant snatched the ball, bobbled it and then steadied it in time to get both feet in-bounds for the only Pittsburgh touchdown. Jones completed just 16-of-29 passes for 209 yards. His two interceptions and sack-fumble sealed the deal. Antonio Brown was held to just six receptions for 124 yards, but a tipped pass to him ended up in the hands of a Chiefs defender. Le'Veon Bell rushed for 121 yards on 17 carries as the Steelers played conservatively, for the most part, keeping the running game their mainstay for offensive production.

Defense: C

The defense was tasked once again to keep the Steelers in the game, but against the Chiefs they saw two opportunities to get the offense back on the field after holding the Chiefs go to waste. Jarvis Jones buried Kansas City deep on a kickoff, but Smith was able to hit Kelce for 26 yards and on the very next play hand off to West, who broke tackle after tackle while racing 36 yards before Ryan Shazier caught up and forced him out-of-bounds. The inability to stop the big run set up a touchdown to Chris Conley. A trending issue of being unable to effectively cover tight ends continues. Lawrence Timmons and Shazier combined for a sack, Cam Heyward was credited with another. Unfortunately, the Steelers' defensive play was mediocre and there was not enough pressure to get Smith off of his game.

Special teams: B

There was little to complain about on special teams this week. Punter Jordan Berry kicked a deep punt that Darrius Heyward-Bey was able to down inside the five yard-line in the third quarter, allowing the defense to force a three-and-out. Placekicker Chris Boswell went two-for-two in field goals, giving the Steelers the six points on the scoreboard in the first half. He added a successful point-after try. Dri Archer and Brown continue to be unable to gain large returns.

Coaching: C

Instead of showing a confidence in what Jones was able to do last week, Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley went conservative. It left the team stalled instead of maintaining any rhythm or momentum. In a situation where they could have kicked for three points, the coaches once again elected to go for it on a fourth-and-one and watched Williams get stuffed. In this case, it wasn't necessarily a bad idea since the kick was in the neighborhood of 49 yards, but Boswell made a 48-yarder last weekend without issues.

Keith Butler and the defensive coaches didn't seem to find a way to get to Smith throughout the game. In the backfield, the defense had some miscues and several missed tackles. Without creating turnovers to match the Chiefs, the coaches watched as their coverage softened and Kansas City found the holes.

The Steelers face the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field in Week 8.

Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a journalist and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied Exercise Physiology and Sports Psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL as well as a published author. Her work can be found on

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