What’s is a win worth when your quarterback is taken to the hospital before the game even ended? The Pittsburgh Steelers came away with a 16-13 win in overtime, but lost Ben Roethlisberger early in the third quarter after he was sacked, leading to a shoulder injury that took him out of the game.
Without him and with Byron Leftwich (hasn’t played since 2010, hasn’t started since 2009) the Steelers struggled to move the ball, let alone score a touchdown on a day that wasn’t going as planned from the get go. The Kansas City Chiefs led for the first time this season, and showed there’s plenty of fight left in them, but Matt Cassel keeps screwing things up.
They had the ball to start overtime, but he threw an interception to the hands of Lawrence Timmons, and that was the end of that. The Steelers took a timeout, and took a 23 yard field goal, nailed by Shaun Suisham for the third FG on the day for him. Even when the Chiefs’ defense did a good job in getting to Roethlisberger, halting the running game and getting a ground game of their own, there’s simply too much of a problem at quarterback and creating points to pull them through.
The Steelers won thanks to defense, and defense alone. This is their identity, their DNA. Luckily, they had an incompetent quarterback such as Matt Cassel infront of them, making it easy for them to show why statistically they have the best D in the NFL. They only sacked Cassel twice, but they got to him four more times as Brett Keisel had a huge day with two sacks and four QB hits.
More importantly, they kept Cassel at 0-8 on third downs and the Chiefs at 2-13. Cassel’s eight third-down pass attempts without a completion are the most for any quarterback in a single game in the last five seasons. Entering Monday, Cassel had completed an NFL-high 68.8 percent of his third-down passes this season.
When the Steelers sent five or more pass rushers Monday, Matt Cassel was 1-8 for 5 yards. His 0.6 yards per attempt against such pressure is the lowest for any quarterback with more than two attempts in a game this season.
When you shut down a quarterback like that, it didn’t matter that Jamaal Charles managed to run for 100 yards and a surprising opening touchdown; the Chiefs had a total of 142 yards on the ground. It didn’t matter that Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman were both held to less than 3 yards per carry.
The problem is now carrying on without Roethlisberger, if he is indeed out for more than just a few days. Leftwich, 32, said that playing again was just like riding a bike: 4,5 plays and he felt like it hasn’t been two seasons since his last game. He finished with 7-14 for 52 yards, struggling to keep the momentum the Steelers built during the second quarter, completely dying down the moment Big Ben left the field.
The Steelers are going to need an answer soon, praying it’s a good one; With two games against the Ravens in the next three weeks, pushing forward on defense alone and an inconsistent running game isn’t a great plan to challenge for the AFC North.