Season Falling Apart After Stunning 27-24 OT Loss to Chiefs


Call it a trap game. Call it a lack of focus. Whatever you call it, the Steelers 2009 season is now officially in a world of trouble. Such is the case after Sunday’s 27-24 shocking overtime loss to the formerly 2-8 Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers had a 10-point lead at 17-7, only to blow that, then 24-17 in the fourth quarter, only to have that fall by the waysides.

The team is now 6-4, losers of two in a row, and in big trouble when it comes to even thinking about playing in the post season. The team dominated the game from the stats standpoint, and after they allowed an opening kickoff for a touchdown took charge, scoring 17 straight points.

Then turnovers took their toll, as first a pick from QB Ben Roethlisberger that bounced off the shoulder pads of Heath Miller early in the third quarter led to a KC touchdown to tight end Leonard Pope to make it 17-14. The Steelers then had another shot to rally put the game away, as they marched to the KC 20, but Roethlisberger threw a pick in the end zone that Andy Studebaker took back 94 yards. That turnover lead to a field goal to make it 17 all.

The Steelers were able to get the lead back with 11 minutes left, as Lawrence Timmons forced a fumble, and James Harrison recovered at the KC 27. Five plays later Roethlisberger found Rashard Mendenhall for an 8-yard score to make it 24-17. That’s when things went wrong.

KC marched from their own 9 and went 8 plays, including a pass play of 30 yards then another of 47 yards to get to the Steelers 13. Four plays later Matt Cassel hit Jammal Charles with a two-yard score to make it 24 all with 4:54 left. The Steelers, who had over 500 yards of offense total, were unable to get past midfield, and were forced to punt.

The Chiefs tried a play, but then downed the ball and the game went to OT. More bad news. The Steelers got the ball first, and seemed to be moving the ball well. They got to the KC 49, but then on a run Roethlisberger was kneed in the head, and had to leave the game. Add to that a hold on Justin Hartwig, and the ball was back at the Steelers 40.

Then though backup QB Charlie Batch came in and made a big play, hitting Santonio Holmes for 17 yards to the Chiefs 43. Then though they had an incomplete pass, an 8-yard run by Mendenhall, and on third down, Moore fell with a two-yard loss, ending the final Steelers possession.

The Chiefs got the ball at their 20, and quickly struck. After three plays, Cassel hit Chris Chambers, who caught the ball in stride and went down the sideline for a 61-yard gain to the Steelers four. The next play Ryan Succop put the Steelers out of their misery with a 22-yard field goal to make it the 27-24 final.

Pittsburgh had outgained the Cheifs n regulation 463-206. The Chiefs stayed in the game with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the contest. The Steelers also held the ball for 19 more minutes. Roethlisberger was 32-for-42 for 398 with three TD’s and two picks.

About the Author

Matt Loede
Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

8 Comments on "Season Falling Apart After Stunning 27-24 OT Loss to Chiefs"

  1. can’t wait to hear how tomlin rationalizes this one. we suck on special teams, we are careless with the football and our offensive coordinator thinks balance means throwing the ball 65 percent of the time. after the first quarter, we never trailed. running the ball and paying field position is not sexy but it is tried and true. they essentially run about 4 different running plays out of different formations. the only way we were going to lose was how we did today. again arians got out prepared and was unwilling to adjust. 17-7 with the ball in the second half. what is wrong with running it a bunch of times and if you have to punt, so what? play field position and force them to beat you. the turover in the redzone; run the ball a bunch of times, maybe try a screen on third down. If your not successful at least you get three which in that situation would have been fine. these mistakes are all based on an overly aggressive offensive approach when you don’t need to be aggressive. the fact that we threw it that much again is a joke. that is coaching and philosophy.

    So frustrating. I have been so positive about this team until this year. Their philisophical change has been too drastic. they have a great QB and should use him but not at the expense of a formula that has worked and will work. we don’t have to run it 60% of the time any more. the goal should be 50-50 but they are no where near that. Arians has revisionist history when he talks about the super bowl in 05 and the the SB’s of the 70’s. in 05′ we came out throwing in the playoffs and got leads then pounded teams into submission. Now, we get leads by throwing the ball and then instead of pounding away we keep chucking it.

    So frustrating

    • I was at the game, Section 123, in the end zone where Ben threw 2 of his touchdowns, and also the near “pick 6”. My opinion of our inability to close out games was highlighted by a handful of things: (1) Mike Wallace’s fumble after a 47 yard gain, (2) Big Ben’s interception at the goal line, (3) Heath Miller’s bobbled pass that led to Ben’s 2nd interception. Steelers receivers have dropped numerous passes this year, particularly 4 passes in the end zone. Our red zone offense has been anemic. The interception in the end zone was definitely on Ben, but I cannot speak for the rest of the season. I do not know if it is Ben, Bruce Arians, or the receivers. The Steelers simply do not close teams out. Players are not making plays, particulary the wide receivers, too many drops, too many times not getting open. It is frustrating to totally dominate a team like we did in KC, yet lose. Those damn Chiefs fans were sure annoying afterwards.

  2. I alluded to this in my earlier post and I’ll elaborate here…Teams like N.E. and Indy who have marginal run blocking offensive lines at best ARE able to run the ball because they’ve established a PASSING culture and thus opposing defenses gear up against that when they play them and voila, running lanes are created! That is the case with most lines on teams that are at worst average and on teams that have established an identity offensively. So, when I look at us and say, “Hmm, this sucks, the bad news is we throw the fucking ball all over the field and Ben gets sacked a lot and doesn’t have much time. I guess it’s because we’ve established an identity as a passing team (which I feel is bullshit—thank you, Arians)…But hey, the good news is there HAS GOT TO BE SOME RUNNING LANES, RIGHT?!?” There’s not even any Goddamn running lanes which means our o-line is so pathetic that when we’ve established a way of doing things (i.e., the pass) and teams come after Ben they can also stop the fucking run too!!!! So, really, PIttsburgh, I mean, really?!? You got Chris K who look as if he doesn’t understand what math is or…fire for that matter and Colon who the coaches keep saying is a budding star…I don’t see it…But we’ll keep dropping back and throwing the ball because that’ll open up the running lanes, right! I haven’t mentioned the special teams because I want to try not to vomit all over my keyboard…Oh, and how about some defensive backs…in 2007 when we drafted Gay, I went to look him up on Draft Board Insiders dot com and on the monitor I received the message, “Who the fuck is he?!” Wow, losing to the Chiefs…I understand on any given Sunday but…The good news is for me, even though I’m ranting like a fiend, I actually feel okay inside because I have finals to study for in my master’s program and a wife who loves me (no, she’s not blind or insane)…And we’re trying to have a baby…but the Steelers are making it hard for me to put the newborn (Godwilling if we have one) in mini-Steelers attire lest the baby pukes all over it because that’s what their attire is good for right about now. Now I have to root for someone to break Brady’s arm or leg…Well, I do that every Sunday but…Maybe I’ll put a fun phonetics project together ala the old Electric Company kids show (ya know the one where Morgan Freeman got his start on) and have it go something like…Smash…Mouth…SMASHMOUTH…Wins…Games…Wins games…Passing…sucks…passsing sucks…Fire…Arians….Fire Arians!

  3. I agree whole-heartedly, Mike…None of Cowher’s teams would’ve lost this one. I’m watching the Raiders, the RAIDERS!?! have some success running the ball against Cincy the way WE shoulda…Yeah, they’re losing but they’re the Raiders. If Bush doesn’t cough up the ball on that tough hit, they might’ve drove down for points..It’s still only a touchdown game. I have been a Steelers fan for my whole life (since the 70’s) and have hated the unbalanced football approach my whole life…I currently live 50 miles north of Philly where I get to laugh at the Eagles for the same type of futility…Now we’re becoming them! I hate this offensive style of play…THREE THINGS CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOU PASS THE FOOTBALL AND TWO OF THEM ARE BAD!!!

  4. What a disaster….I’m so depressed right now…This is not Steelers football. We ve got two legit backs in mendenhall and Parker. Let’s get back to pounding the football. And special teams is awful. Someone’s gonna have to go..very disappointed and agree with much of what’s already been written…

  5. Gentlemen, you are all correct. Since the start of the pre-season, we have discussed the deficiencies of this 2009 edition of the Steelers: breakdowns on special teams coverage; poor pass protection; the inability to run the ball consistently; offensive play calling; the inability to cover short passing routes; all were on display in the loss to the Chiefs.

    Now, in the past two games, we have seen one more deficiency, an alarming one — our $20 million dollar man is playing more like two bits. Ben simply is not accurate, takes too many sacks, and takes unnecessary risks. It is no longer acceptable for Arians to give Ben free rein in play calling. Ben hated the restraints imposed by the former offensive coordinator, but he performed more efficiently when he had less freedom. Even as a lowly rookie, Ben played more consistently well (15-1) than he has since. Of course, his O-line and running game were better then, too. But most of Ben’s problems are caused by Ben.

    All these deficiences stem from a laxity of execution, a lack of discipline. Details.

    For example, run blocking is largely about discipline and desire. In the old days, when Cowher had a ten point lead, the Steelers rarely lost, even with less raw talent on the team, because he could rely on Bettis and an O-line that was disciplined and relentless. Cowher won a lot of games simply by denying the ball to the opposing offense. The 2009 Steelers are unable to do that, even though they are physically better players.

    In Tomlin’s post-game conference, he took full responsibility for the debacle in Kansas City. He should. He says he’ll get it fixed. He should. But he said that after the Cincy game, too. If we, mere fans, have seen and analyzed these deficiencies for many months, and the coaches still haven’t been able to fix them, one must wonder whether this coaching staff has the right stuff to get it done. (Note that our revamped special teams promptly gave up its 4th TD return in 5 games. Some fix! So don’t hold your breath.)

    Thank heaven, Cincy lost yesterday, too. The Steelers still have a chance to salvage this season. The O-line can run block (see the Denver game); the pass defense can be improved (tighten down, simplify, tutor Gay); and the offense can be re-focused(harness Ben’s gambling instincts, retain a blocking back to pick the delayed blitz), just for starters. The team can’t keep doing things the same way and expect different results. We must be back to basics — greater discipline is required. Noll and Cowher demanded it. Now, Tomlin must demonstrate the he has the right stuff, too. If teams are forged in adversity, it is time for Tomlin to be the hammer.

  6. I certainly agree with the assessment of more discipline. Ben needs to be in more control, but like I said before, Arians and Ben are too close and nothing will change there. Play calling is the concern. It looks as though the Steelers have no consistency because they run plays (pass/run)without regard for the next down. In other words, they do not seem to set up their next play and therefor set up the defense for a big play. Just passing for a chunk or running for chunk is redundant, they just move on to the next down. They are not establishing anything on offense even with 500 total yards of it.500 yards should come with 34 points at least, and a win.
    As for the defense. Well, we all miss Troy but you cannot tell me that the other 10 men and Carter cant find a way to stop the Chiefs,Bears, or either game against the Bengals? No way! There is something missing or something not being addressed for this to be happening. 3rd and 9 from inside the Chiefs 20 and they give up back-to-back BIG plays and then they score the tying TD yesterday. 4th and long in the first game against the Bengals with under a minute and what happened? 1st down on a missed tackle and then TD to lose the game. Too many ways this defense is giving up BIG scores. Maybe not so many BIG plays, but giving up points on drives. Turnovers? Almost non existent. Willie Gay is in fact, a 3rd or 4th Corner and not equipped to play full time, man-on-man. Taylor is solid but often gets caught singled out for the deep pass. More often he makes the play, but offenses are now testing him. Carter is a better Free safety replacement then Strong safety replacement. I am not talking about Special teams. They are an abomination and if a coaching change is not made either during or right after the season, I will lose respect for Tomlin. I want to see more Ziggy Hood. No offense to Nick Eason, but Hood may add a pass rush dimension similar to Smith than Eason does. One more thing, I love James Farrior, but does anyone else notice he is a 1/2 step slower to the ball these days? I have been trying to pay more attention to him, and his seemed agelessness is wearing out. Still a good LB, but he seems to be the target of more plays. I hope someone comments on this, becasue I want to keep this going and gain more perspective from other Steeler fans

  7. I’ll comment, Mark…All of your points are salient. The defensive concerns on your end are somewhat shared by me. But, if you look at how the defense has played: with Troy, unstoppable and relentless, without Troy, still good enough to win all but one of the games they’ve lost—this past one…So, in essence, I’m not going to ride the defense for being responsible for only %25 of their losses while the offense and special teams are responsible for all %100. Yes, Farrior is getting slow but I’d still take him over many of the other 3-4 ILB’s in the league. I agree whole-heartedly about Gay—Heeeee suckssssss! Sorry, you have to score more points against the Bears (Santonio has to catch that ball in the endzone) and sorry, you have to score more points against the Bengals BOTH times (especially this last time at home—four field goals is pathetic) and sorry, you’re quite simply not allowed to let other teams return kicks for touchdowns and if you do you suck, period! “Oh, Jay, but that happens in sports…” Bullshit! Not to championship teams it doesn’t, not six times or some insane number. The big picture here is Cowher had a philosophy, he was not a fan of PERENNIALLY drafting O-lineman in the first round; occasionally I guess with Faneca and Simmons (both guards I might add) and Searcy back in the day and wasn’t Stai a first rounder—I dunno; point is, if he was drafting an o-lineman in the first round, it was because it was a guard who could MAUL people and a bargain pick. If he drafted a first round tackle it was only because that tackle could pass block and Cowher knew he could get a run blocking tackle in later rounds…He backed his philosophy which was to run the ball behind a bunch of lower round road-graders and play defense…take the air out of the ball and under no uncertain circumstances would he relinquish sizable leads…Tomlin inherited a bunch of road-graders from Cowher (Starks, Colon-who plays like one-Essex and Kemoyaewhatverthefuckhisnameis) and yet our o-coordinator asks Ben, a great quarterback mind you but one who does not quite have say, Peyton Manning’s awareness, to throw the fucking ball 65% of the time!?! It makes about as much sense as a bib on a fucking farm swine! Arians is just like Reid in Philly, stubborn, prideful and the victim of, “Oh, it’s worked before and, blah, vomit, belch!” NO quarterback, not even if God almighty sent Christ back to QB Pittsburgh could pass the ball %65 of the time behind that o-line! Jesus would be like, “Wait, wait, wait, a minute, God, you want me to throw the ball how often…from behind them….Where’s the cross where’s the fucking cross!” Yeah, Tomlin, put Troy in on a blocked FG attempt in week one…Yeah, I’m loving it…It’s just a shame because this team, if properly coached, could win another one. So, I’d like to officially start a steelersgab tradition. At the end of every blog anyone puts one here, we should always end it like this…I’M SERIOUS! Here goes—the last words you read here should be signed off by EVERYONE WHO BLOGS HERE until it happens…………….FIRE ARIANS!

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