Red Zone

Halftime observations: Steelers 12, Chiefs 3

Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ offense could get little going in the first half.
Alex Smith and the Chiefs’ offense could get little going in the first half. jsleezer@kcstar.com

It’s halftime of the Chiefs’ sixth game of 2017, and the Chiefs trail the Pittsburgh Steelers 12-3 at Arrowhead Stadium. Here is Terez A. Paylor’s quick analysis.

1. The run defense has been horrific

Let’s call it like it is. The Chiefs’ run defense looked as bad as it did in January, when the Steelers rolled up 171 rushing yards in a divisional-round win that knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs. Le’Veon Bell tortured the Chiefs for 108 first-half yards today thanks to his combination of vision, patience and power, and the Chiefs’ inability to get off blocks or wrap up. The Chiefs added an extra defender to the box at times, but that only opens up possibilities in the Steelers’ passing game.

2. Big Ben has way too much time to operate

There have been times in the first half where Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has seemingly had all day to throw. That’s bad, bad, bad news against a Steelers offense with many talented skill players. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will be forced to bring extra blitzers (which opens up the possibility of the long ball) if this keeps up.

3. The Steelers have a bead on the Chiefs’ offense

Over the first 27 minutes of the game, the Chiefs ran 11 plays for 11 yards. That’s right. An offense that has been dynamic all season long was completely bottled up by the Steelers. That won’t continue all game long, but that was a brutal start. Heck of a job by Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler, who snuffed out lots of the Chiefs’ pet concepts early.

4. Have injuries caught up with the Chiefs?

Might be time to wonder about that. Key starters who missed this game include Mitch Morse, Chris Conley, Eric Berry, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Albert Wilson. Meanwhile, Tyreek Hill, Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Travis Kelce and others have all been banged up this week, but played anyway.

5. Some positives

Jehu Chesson showed extraordinary hustle when he dove to recover a kickoff that bounced around before he recovered it. Akeem Hunt downed a punt at the Steelers’ 1. Marcus Peters blew up a Pittsburgh drive when he intercepted a pass by Roethlisberger in the second quarter. That’s all I’ve got.

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