Archive for Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chiefs have reason to be wary of Steelers

October 15, 2006


— Great teams, poor teams. Good weather, bad weather. Playoff game, or one that barely counts for anything.

Herm Edwards knows it doesn't make any difference.

No matter the circumstances or the personnel involved, the Kansas City Chiefs coach knows how difficult it can be to win in Pittsburgh. That's why he seems to care little about the Super Bowl champion Steelers' 1-3 start, Ben Roethlisberger's ragged play, the inconsistencies in their passing game or their defensive letdowns in the second half.

If his team is playing in Pittsburgh, Edwards understands there is no possible way this could be an easy game for the Chiefs (2-2).

"They've lost three in a row and their backs are to the wall, similar to ours when we were 0-2," Edwards said. "It's going to be one of those games where we can't do what we did in Arizona last week where we got behind (14-0). You get behind on these guys, and it's over, you've got no chance."

Edwards speaks with more than a little experience.

The last time he took a team to Pittsburgh, his New York Jets sustained one of the toughest playoff losses ever when Doug Brien missed not one but two potential winning field-goal tries in the final two minutes of the Steelers' 20-17 overtime victory on Jan. 15, 2005. No other NFL kicker had ever missed two such kicks in so short a span with a playoff game on the line.

Chiefs-Steelers at a glance

KANSAS CITY (2-2) at PITTSBURGH (1-3) 3:15 p.m. today, Channels 5, 13 LINE - Steelers by 7. RECORD VS. SPREAD - Chiefs 2-2; Steelers 1-3. SERIES RECORD - Steelers lead 16-9. LAST MEETING - Chiefs 41, Steelers 20, Sept. 14, 2003 at Kansas City. LAST WEEK - Chiefs beat Cardinals 23-20; Steelers lost to Chargers 23-13. CHIEFS OFFENSE - OVERALL (18T), RUSH (18), PASS (20) CHIEFS DEFENSE - OVERALL (4), RUSH (18), PASS (4) STEELERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (25), RUSH (22), PASS (24) STEELERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (14), RUSH (10), PASS (22) STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Kansas City's defense has posted four sacks in each of last two games. ... Damon Huard has 107.4 passer rating, second best in NFL. ... RB Larry Johnson leads AFC in yards from scrimmage with 599 (331 rushing, 268 receiving). He has rushed for 125-plus yards in five of last six road games and leads Chiefs with 20 receptions (268 yards). ... G Will Shields has played in 212 career games and is tied with K Nick Lowery for most in club history. ... LB Kendrell Bell spent three years with Steelers (2001-04). ... P Dustin Colquitt is son of former Steelers P Craig Colquitt (1978-84). ... Pittsburgh owns NFL-best 32-12 (.727) record in October since 1995. .. Steelers are 14-4 at Heinz Field over past three seasons.

The Jets not only lost the game, but Brien lost his job, and he has made only one field goal since, in four tries with the Bears last season.

"It was a tough day," Edwards said.

Yeah, Pittsburgh can be a difficult place to play - at times, even for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger, only a few months removed from his near-tragic June 12 motorcycle accident, heard some boos while throwing three interceptions during a 28-20 loss to Cincinnati on Sept. 24. Steelers fans can be demanding, even after the team finally won a Super Bowl for the first time in 26 years, and they certainly didn't anticipate a 1-3 start.

Of course, the Steelers also didn't expect to be this far behind Baltimore (4-1) or Cincinnati (3-1) so early in the AFC North race.

"It's very surprising," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "If anyone told us we would be 1-3 at this point, it would be very shocking to me. We've got to do whatever it takes to win this game."

Maybe that's why Edwards might be wishing the Steelers were 3-1 instead of 1-3. They have never started 1-4 under coach Bill Cowher, or since their 1988 team won only one of its first seven.

"You can't go in there thinking you're going to outscore these guys or do anything crazy," Edwards said. "You've got to be very diligent in what you're trying to do and it's going to get ugly at times because they force a lot of negative yards with their defense. There's a certain way you've got to play them."

Still, who could have expected when the season began that Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard would have five touchdown passes and no interceptions at this point, and Roethlisberger would have no touchdown passes and seven interceptions?

There's plenty of blame to go around for the Steelers' poor start. Such as their inconsistent offensive line play; the inability of their receivers to get open downfield; and the defense's tendency to allow long, successful drives. San Diego had two drives of 80 yards or longer in winning, 23-13, last Sunday.

But even taking into account the motorcycle crash and appendicitis attack that left him subpar physically when the season started, Roethlisberger's unreliable play has been the Steelers' biggest disappointment.

He already has nearly as many losses as a starter this season (3) as he had in his first two seasons combined (4). He's also making the kind of mistakes - throwing into traffic or when he's in an awkward position - he didn't make while going 13-0 as a rookie.

"I'm not going to point the finger at anybody," Roethlisberger said. "I'm going to point the thumb at myself."


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