KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Steelers’ offense put up just two first downs in the first half against Kansas City. With the offense struggling mightily, it was tough for the Steelers’ defense to hold strong against a ferocious Chiefs offense that is one of the most talented and explosive in the NFL. Despite two turnovers, including a scoop and score from T.J. Watt, the defense eventually could not hold up anymore.
After the dam broke, Patrick Mahomes threw five straight touchdowns in just about ten minutes of game time to lead Kansas City to a 42-21 victory. It was the sign of a defense that was hurt by the offense’s lack of execution. The defense was out on the field for forty plays, while the Steelers offense did not even run thirty plays overall in the first half.
“We were not necessarily physically worn down, but there was a lot of time in the hopper,” Mike Tomlin said. “You gotta get off the field. You have to possess the ball when you are playing that group. We were just not able to maintain it.”
When the head coach himself says that complementary football was not played by one side of the team, that speaks volumes. However, talking to defensive players themselves, it was very clear they got worn down quickly. Even defensive captain Cam Heyward knew that eventually, Kansas City would breakthrough despite the defense’s energy and want to keep the team in it. Fatigue is simply too big of a factor against the track speed of the Chiefs, and it affected execution.
“I don’t think we took advantage of those first five possessions,” Heyward said. “Once they got the one, they were able to execute better. There was not enough detail on our part. You tip the cap to a team like that.”
T.J. Watt will not outright admit that there was a matter of fatigue to it, however. Rather, the game of chess between himself, Mahomes, Tomlin, and Andy Reid was the highlight of the matchup for him, even if they could not get off the field.
“I don’t know, it’s tough to tell in-game,” Watt said, “It’s a game of chess. There are so many factors that go into it. I won’t know until I go back and watch the film.”
The defense certainly has its holes, but it did feel like they were hung out to dry after their great start to the game.