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Week 2 Game Recap: Kansas City Chiefs 42, Pittsburgh Steelers 37
What you need to know
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-37 in a game that could have playoff implications later this season for the AFC foes. Patrick Mahomes threw for 326 yards and six touchdowns in what was a masterclass in quarterback play. Running back Kareem Hunt
rushed 18 times for 75 yards, but also caught one pass for five yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill
came back down to earth this week, well sort of, catching five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. Prize off-season acquisition Sammy Watkins
caught six passes for 100 yards. Tight end Travis Kelce
had a monster day, catching seven passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Hines Field was stunned being down 21-0 in the first quarter of the game and could have been 28-0 if it wasn’t for a defensive holding penalty against the Chiefs. In the second quarter the Steelers started finding their rhythm against the Chiefs defense and were poised to start their comeback when they almost completely abandoned their rushing game. The Steelers were able to score quickly in the third quarter. The second half of the game was relatively quiet with the exception of a safety and a Ben Roethlisberger
quarterback keeper touchdown with two minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, Ben’s heroics were too little too late, and the Steelers would not pull out the win.
Kansas City Chiefs
|QB Patrick Mahomes II, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 28 - 326 - 6 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 18 - 0|
Patrick Mahomes set the NFL world on fire on Sunday, completing 23 of 28 passes for 326 yards and six touchdowns, while also rushing five times for 18 yards. It did not take long for Mahomes to get into a groove against the Steelers, as by the time the first quarter was over, he had already thrown three touchdowns and led the Chiefs to a 21-0 lead. On the Chiefs first drive, Mahomes showed why the Chiefs coaching staff were confident in him being their full-time starter this year. With Mahomes operating out of the Shotgun, he sent Tyreek Hill
in motion from the right side of the formation. Pittsburgh cornerback Artie Burns matched him step for step in motion, indicating to Mahomes that the Steelers were in man on man coverage. With this in mind, Mahomes took the snap and quickly turned to the right side of the field where he had Sammy Watkins
running a go-route. Watkins did not beat his man right away, but with an open field behind him, Mahomes threw Watkins open on a beautiful touch pass along the right sideline that went for a 40 yard gain. Mahomes continued to pick on Burns throughout the game, especially when his receivers were in pre-snap motion, and hit Watkins on another long pass when Burns misread his assignment and Mahomes read the play beautifully. When the Steelers tried to blitz, Mahomes would read the field, and change the play if necessary. He did this on a 36 yard completion to Hill, when the Steelers were playing only one deep safety. With Hill gaining separation right from the jump, Mahomes bought himself some extra time by fading back and delivering a beautiful pass over the top of Burns that let Hill adjust to the pass and gain yards after the catch. On the first of his two touchdown passes to Travis Kelce
, Mahomes threw a dart to Kelce’s outside shoulder when he was running a shallow slant from the right side. At first it may look like an inaccurate pass, but Mahomes put the ball where Kelce could make the play and have no defensive interference as there were converging defenders from the middle of the field. Mahomes and Hill have shown great chemistry, and it continued on their 25 yard hookup for a touchdown to start the 4th quarter that ended up being the game winning touchdown for the Chiefs. With Hill operating in one on one coverage on the left side of the field, Mahomes took the snap out of shotgun and waited for Hill to gain separation. Hill was running a fly-route, but in an ode to Hill’s speed, this route called for him to curl inside after he gained separation. This kind of route makes sense for an undersized player like Hill as it makes the cornerback turn to the inside of the field after he his beat, which means he has no chance of stopping Hill once he gets past him. That is exactly what happened, and Mahomes delivered a great a ball to Hill, who made the catch and trotted into the endzone untouched. Mahomes also threw touchdown passes to Demarcus Robinson
, Kareem Hunt
and Chris Conley
|RB Kareem Hunt, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 75 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 1 (1 targets)|
rushed 18 times for 75 yards, while also catching one pass on one target for a five yard touchdown. With Mahomes at quarterback, Hunt has not been asked to shoulder as much of the offensive load as he did his rookie season, but it also early in the year and that should change as the season progresses. The Steelers did a pretty good job containing Hill, stopping him seven times for two yards or less, including once for a safety on the Chiefs one yard line. If the Steelers plan was to bottle up the run game, they did a fair job (although Hunt did average 4.1 yards per carry), but they lost that war with Mahomes carving them up to the tune of six passing touchdowns. To Hunt’s credit, he played a nice role in this win, gaining six or more yards on first down six times on his 18 carries. This helped put the Chiefs in advantageous passing situations, which they took full advantage of. Hill’s receiving touchdown came on a swing pass on the left side of the field from the Chiefs five yard line. Mahomes delivered the pass to Hill right at the line of scrimmage and Hunt punished a Steelers defender with a stiff arm before scoring his first touchdown of the season.
|WR Sammy Watkins, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 31 - 0, Rec: 6 - 100 - 0 (7 targets)|
Watkins caught five passes for 90 yards on seven targets, while also rushing once for 31 yards. Watkins was much more involved in the game plan this week than in week 1, and he made the most of his opportunities. Watkins saw passes in the short, intermediate and deep passing game, and was even given an end around, which he showed off his speed to the tune of a 31 yard gain that set up Hunt’s touchdown reception. Watkins may be on his third team in three years, but he still has the deep speed and separation skills that made him a top receiving threat in Buffalo. This was on display early in the 1st quarter when the Steelers were playing one on one man coverage. With only one deep safety, and his defender giving him room off the line, Watkins timed his route so that he could come off the snap quickly and then throw a fake to the outside as his defender was closing in on him. Watkins gained separation easily after that and Mahomes threw him a lob pass along the sideline that went for a 40 yard gain and set up the Chiefs second touchdown.
|WR Tyreek Hill, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 90 - 1 (6 targets)|
caught five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown on seven targets in the Chiefs win over the Steelers on Sunday. Mahomes spread the ball around more this game, but even though he threw five touchdowns to other players, Hill still finished with 20+ points in PPR formats. The Steelers did not leave their cornerbacks in one on one man coverage with no safety help many times on Hill, yet it seemed like every time they did, Hill was roasting his defenders for big gains. Hill’s first catch didn’t come until the first play of the second half, but it went for 36 yards. With Burns covering him, Hill abused him with a quick out-in-out fake to the left sideline and gained separation quickly. The Steelers blitzed from the right side which forced Mahomes to fade back before throwing over the top to Hill, which was so far ahead of his defender that the pass actually went over the top and then behind Hill before Burns could recover. Had the Steelers not blitzed and Mahomes got off a normal throw, this would have went for a 75 yard touchdown. Hill adjusted to the pass and then gained another 15 yards after the catch. Hill’s touchdown catch, which was Mahomes sixth, was a 29 yard play that showed off his burgeoning route-running skills. The call was a fly-route up the left side of the field, but as Hill gained separation he curled his route to the inside of the field which allowed him to make the catch without having to battle his defender along the goal line. The play was simply too easy for the Chiefs receiver, as his defender had no way of recovering before Hill could score the deciding touchdown.
|TE Travis Kelce, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 109 - 2 (10 targets)|
led the Chiefs receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns against the Steelers, finishing with seven receptions for 109 yards and two scores on 12 targets. This game was a great example of how much trouble opposing defenses are going to have against the Chiefs offense. As soon as the defense starts to adjust and place more emphasis on shutting down the Chiefs speed on the outside of the field, Kelce steps in and absolutely destroys them in the middle of the field. That is essentially what happened here, as the Steelers had no answer for Kelce. He caught both touchdowns on essentially the same play, just from different sides of the formation. Kelce runs the shallow slant in the red zone as well as any receiver in the league. The shallow slant allows for more options for the quarterback and lets Kelce use his big body and wide catch radius to adjust to how the quarterback throws the route. On his first touchdown catch, Mahomes threw the ball hard and a little behind Kelce, which was done to minimize any potential chance opposing defenders had of breaking up the play. Mahomes throws a hard ball, but Kelce still made the necessary adjustments and came down with a very nice catch. His second touchdown was a much easier catch for Kelce, a little out in front of him and low but still a routine touchdown catch for an All-Pro like Kelce.
|QB Ben Roethlisberger, 82 offensive snaps, Pass: 39 - 60 - 452 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 9 - 1|
Roethlisberger came into the game with an elbow injury and wore a sleeve on his right arm for protection. Ben Roethlisberger
did not only need protection for his arm, but he also needed extra protection with his right guard, David DeCastro, out for the game. DeCastro’s absence was felt throughout the game and Roethlisberger was moved off his spot and forced to make plays on his own. With their backs against the wall Roethlisberger almost turned the ball over again if it weren’t for a holding penalty that negated the play. Through the first half of the game Roethlisberger had over 30 pass attempts, and the Steelers were using the short passing game to supplement the run and was efficient. At one point, Roethlisberger as 9-9 before missing James Washington
on a deep end zone target. Ben Roethlisberger
wasn’t off target through the game, but he had miscommunications with his receivers and was putting more velocity on his throws than Week 1. With the Steelers down by two scores, Roethlisberger rushed for a touchdown with two minutes left in the game.
|RB James Conner, 73 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 17 - 1, Rec: 5 - 48 - 0 (5 targets)|
The “Le’Veon Bell treatment” should now be known as the “Steelers Running Back Treatment”. The name on the back of the jersey doesn’t matter. If they are in the backfield they will see plenty of usage in the rushing and receiving game (even Ryan Switzer
). Conner’s best run of the day came after two evaded tackles on a 22-yard gain. He also had an Odell Beckham Jr
. like fingertip coming down out of bounds but did draw a defensive pass interference. Most importantly, Conner seemed to have regained his for from the first three quarters of Week 1 as he finished strong and ran over two defenders to score a touchdown to start off the second half for the Steelers. After Conner’s rushing touchdown in the third quarter he left the game for a full series and was replaced by Stevan Ridley
. Conner was able to return to the game in the fourth quarter.
It is hard to imagine Ben Roethlisberger
having eyes for another wide receiver, but JuJu Smith-Schuster
is a possibility and out targeted Antonio Brown
19 to 17. Throughout Sunday’s match-up Smith-Schuster and Roethlisberger were on the same page. Big Ben was hitting JuJu in stride and giving plenty of opportunity after the catch. Smith-Schuster’s touchdown reception came on tight coverage from Kansas City.
|WR Antonio Brown, 77 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 67 - 0 (17 targets)|
It was not a normal Antonio Brown
game. Even with high target volume, Brown was mostly targeted on check downs and was being missed deep by Ben Roethlisberger
. Emotions ran high as you could see Brown frustrated with the communication between him and his quarterback. Brown did not hesitate to let his Offensive Coordinator know his feelings and was seen arguing on the sideline with him.
With Justin Hunter
getting a game day inactive (coach’s decision) Washington drew the start in a three wide receiver set. Washington was targeted early and often in this match-up. On the first drive alone Washington had three targets, two of them being deep. Washington was splitting time with Ryan Switzer
, who saw time in the slot and also at running back. Washington’s touchdown reception came on a controversial pass where Ben Roethlisberger
appeared to cross the line of scrimmage before the pass left his hand. Even so, the play was ruled a touchdown on the field.
|TE Jesse James, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 138 - 1 (5 targets)|
James was the forgotten man in this matchup, by the Chiefs. In the first half alone James had 4 receptions, 92 yards, and1 touchdown. There was concern with James’ usage coming into the game with Vance McDonald
returning to action, but James was more involved. James finished the day catching all five of his targets and making the most of his spot on the target totem pole.