PITTSBURGH – There is a subtle brilliance to stadiums like Fenway Park and Mile High and Cowboy Stadium (or whatever it's called) that really fit the home team. Fenway is old, crickety, intense and historic. Cowboy Stadium is all glitz and show and cheerleaders and HD video boards.
Heinz Field, and I don't know how else to put it, is an awful fit for the Steelers.
This is one of the pro football's great franchises, a history and consistency that's the envy of virtually the entire league. The stadium is just … underwhelming. It's not as loud as you think it should be, not as intimidating, and doesn't have the sort of classic beauty that at least I think it should. It's a fine place, don't get me wrong, just not worthy of the Steelers.
I don't know if any of that makes sense.
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Anyway, the game...
Steelers were giving the Chiefs whatever they wanted on the outside. I have to think that was why Jamaal Charles didn't get more touches, especially early. The defensive strategy was working, but a bit strange because it allowed Alex Smith to do what he does best – quick, short passes.
Albert Wilson is balling, as the kids used to say. John Dorsey really found something there.
All of that said, the Chiefs have to be furious with themselves. They got to the eight, four and 12 yard line without scoring a touchdown. The replay was close, but Jamaal Charles can't fumble that ball. The offense has to be better than that. In a critical game – the biggest game of the season – the Chiefs just weren't good enough. They got what they deserved today.
The game was not without its good points for the Chiefs. Justin Houston got his 18th sack. The defense held up better than it should've been expected. Sean Smith continues to play well. Allen Bailey had a few nice moments. Albert Wilson. Dwayne Bowe was lively. But, yeah, not enough.
I'll use the cliché and say I need to see the film, but after writing about how Eric Fisher has been so much better over the last month or two, he had a rough start on Sunday.
Of course, I almost always think offensive line play is worse watching live than I do when watching the film.
Though, not as bad as Jeff Linkenbach. My goodness, that sack by Cameron Heyward in the first half is going to have the Steelers linemen both hooting and hollering when they watch film of this game.
I guess we have to talk about the officials. I thought the hold on Ron Parker – an absolutely pivotal moment in the first half – could've gone either way. I'd like to see the officials let that one go, but Parker did seem to reach and wrap a bit. It's not an egregious mistake, in my opinion. The replay showed that Roethlisberger's arm was probably not moving forward when Ford hit him initially, so that should've been a fumble, but Andy Reid also could've challenged it. And the spot at the end of the first half, I thought review got that right.
Of course, I've never heard someone say, “My team won but only because the officials made many bad calls in our favor. We were very fortuitous.” Like, for instance, that drive in the fourth quarter that was kept alive on a phantom taunting penalty on William Gay. And a hold on the Steelers on the same drive.
I liked that they went for it there on fourth and short, though I'm not on board with the call. Anthony Fasano isn't a good run blocker, and at least watching live looked to choose the wrong man to block. Would've liked the Chiefs to challenge the Steelers on the outside, not power block (a weakness) against that Pittsburgh front.
Alex Smith has to hit Albert Wilson on that post route in the third quarter. No quarterback is perfect, but there are certain plays that really turn games, and that was seven points the Chiefs could've had. Instead, two plays later and they're punting. Enormous, easily overlooked, play.
Depending on how I do with Christmas shopping, I may get a giffy blog post this week on Alex Smith. The game usually looks different watching on film, but live it looks like this is a good day to be in the CAPTAIN CHECKDOWN WILL NEVER WIN camp.
Among other things, I'm looking forward to watching Dontari Poe and Maurkice Pouncey on the All-22 this week. Poe seems to be wearing down a bit the last month or so, and he didn't make himself noticed much, so I'm assuming Pouncey beat him up.