Red Zone

Halftime observations: Steelers 29, Chiefs 0, and it’s not really that close

Spencer Ware watches the ball bounce away after coughing up his third fumble of the season.
Spencer Ware watches the ball bounce away after coughing up his third fumble of the season. skeyser@kcstar.com

It’s halftime at Heinz Field, and the Chiefs trail the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-0 in their Week 4 tilt. Here are some quick thoughts.

1. Maybe this fumbling is starting to become a thing for Spencer Ware, which is bad news, for obvious reasons. He lost his third fumble in as many weeks in the first quarter. Ware doesn’t have a reputation as a fumbler, but that might start changing if he doesn’t start holding on to the ball. Granted, the one last week was bogus. But running backs coach Eric Bieniemy isn’t going to tolerate this, and with so many talented backs, Ware’s fumbling will eventually cut into his playing time if he doesn’t fix it.

2. Alex Smith was intercepted in the first quarter while trying to throw a short pass to Spencer Ware, and it was a nice play by defensive end Cam Heyward to reach into the air and deflect it. Jarvis Jones was right there for the interception, which led to a score that put the Chiefs in an early 15-0 hole.

3. The Chiefs got off to a slow start for the third time in four games, and while 12 games remain on the schedule, this has become a glaring issue that needs to get fixed. The Steelers aren’t this much better than the Chiefs, but they looked infinitely more prepared and motivated after they got rolled by Philadelphia 34-3 last Sunday in the club’s worst loss in 27 years. A 29-0 halftime deficit is absurd. What an embarrassing showing.

4. I wrote extensively about the need to slow down Antonio Brown for Sunday’s Star, and the guy ended the first half with four catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns. If that dude is rolling, Pittsburgh’s offense is pretty much impossible to defend. I need to see the tape to affirm this — and I have no idea if it was the defensive playcall, the execution or both — but there’s no reason for Brown, of all people, to be allowed to run down the seam in single coverage on a post route. None. Of course he got the ball, and of course he scored a touchdown. Poor Steven Nelson didn’t have a chance.

5. If you need something to look for in the second half, the best I can come up with is seeing what happens when the Chiefs turn to their three-wide, no-huddle stuff. That’s been the only way they’ve been able to move the football this season, which is really unacceptable entering year four of the program. I’d also tell you to keep an eye out for guys who are still playing hard and with excitement in the second half. Those are winning players.

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