You know, I don't much feel like going back and examining this game. It sucked in all the predictable ways it would have to suck for the Chiefs to win: a return touchdown, a couple of turnovers on the opponent's side of the field that turned into huge point swings, fuckwitted playcalling on key plays. The shebang. I'd rather be fixating on how much I hate the goddamn Ratbirds and their pathetic referee-blaming fans in advance of Sunday night's game, but what can you do?
STAGGERING FACT THAT EVEN IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW PROBABLY WOULDN'T SURPRISE YOU: The team has surrendered a defensive or special teams score in each of the last eight games. That's an NFL record, folks. Not even sure how the team went 5-3 over that span with that kind of generosity. It's a credit to the rest of the team that the Steelers largest margin of defeat is six points. But that's much consolation when you've dropped two straight, the latest to the fucking Chiefs.
Beside kick returns for TDs, there's another commonality between the last two losses. Starting the second half with a lead and proceeding to turn the ball over. Both were on tipped passes, but on each of those drives the team was noticeably pass happy coming out with the ball and the lead. The run was featured more prominently in this game, and Willie Parker even showed some flashes of utility (helps when it's Kansas City's run defense). But even with the offensive line playing better, it seems like there's no faith placed in the running game. And when the Steelers do try to run in critical moments or short yardage situations, it's a pitch to the left on a 3rd and 2 with Mewelde Moore.
The 3rd and 2 call will get all the attention as the huge Arians blunder of the game, but I was even more irate with how the Steelers final drive in regulation ended. It was almost a carbon copy of the conclusion of the Bengals game. Obvious blitzes by the defense while the passing game has four guys running down and no quick routes of hot reads in case Ben doesn't get five seconds to throw. Ben was a lot better about hitting checkdowns in this game than against Cincy, which I think was a huge part of why they were so successful in moving the ball so easily. But then the game is on the line and it turns into trying to hit a home run on every pass play.
It's just like when the Steelers get into the red zone. How many times in the last few weeks have the Steelers moved down the field with varied attacks only to switch to five-wide shotgun formations inside the 15? Not really the part of the field where you can afford to be obvious. You know, you can keep a rusher in the backfield just maybe even create the possibility that you might run the ball.
Until we get some definitive news on Roethlisberger, I don't want to start to speculate on the Ravens game. You know those assholes will be ready. It's their Super Bowl. The Ravens have been waiting for this game since January (I mean, except the part where they dodged a Week 1 meeting) and wearing shirts saying how much they hate the Steelers. There's probably no game the Ravens want to loss less than this one.
I'd like to say I'm not totally down about the prospects of winning if Dixon started, but I am. Maybe if it were the 2008 Steelers; they could pull out a 13-9 win. Not that this defense hasn't proven to be far off from that one. But the chances of a return TD or some other gimme score to put the game away are too high. And the Ravens offense is better than the unit LeBeau dominated a year ago. This is certainly a week, Ben or not, the Steelers have to end that streak at eight games. It'll going to be too tight a game. One such slip-up will get them a loss. I guarantee it. Not that the Steelers can't afford to split with the Ravens and still make the playoffs, but who really wants to leave it to that?