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In KC, the 'D' bailed out the 'O'

Posted Nov 28, 2011

KANSAS CITY – It was one of the Steelers’ worst offensive performances of the season from a statistical standpoint.

But overall the Steelers had just enough to beat the Chiefs last Sunday night, 13-9, at Arrowhead Stadium, and that mattered more to the participants than the particulars.

“We’re fortunate to get out of here with a win,” tight end Heath Miller said. “All wins are good wins, but if we’re honest with ourselves as an offense we know we have to get better. But I think we’re capable of that.”

They had been all season, but the 290 total net yards the Steelers generated against the Chiefs constituted a season-low figure.

* And the Steelers’ 27 percent success rate on third downs was also their worst in 11 games (three conversions matched the three the Steelers managed on Sept. 11 at Baltimore, when they went 3-for-9 for 33 percent) in a 35-7 blowout loss.

* And their 13 points were their third-fewest of 2011, the fewest in any game that they won.

* And their 182 net passing yards marked their second-lowest total (178 on Oct. 2 at Houston), as did the Steelers’ 18 first downs (they had 15 on Oct. 16 against Jacksonville).

“It’s tough because it’s kind of a mix-feelings type of thing,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “You’re happy to get the win but you’re disappointed with the way your offense played. But that’s what ‘team’ is all about. The defense stepped up huge for us.”

The Steelers’ defense compensated for the struggles of the offense by coming up with a season-high four takeaways, and the nine points allowed had been bettered only during the Steelers’ 24-0 shutout of Seattle on Sept. 18.

One late touchdown would have been enough to steal the game for the Chiefs, but the last of those four takeaways, an interception by cornerback Keenan Lewis in the final minute, sealed the deal for the Steelers.

“It was just something small here, something small there,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s hard to say right now, without knowing the whole story of seeing it on film. I guess I’d have to just give (the Chiefs) credit for being disruptive.

“I’ve been saying in the past couple of weeks I felt like we had steadily improved each week. I think we had our first setback but I don’t think it’s anything to panic over. It’s one game against a good defense in a hostile environment. We’ll go back and look at it and evaluate it and get better, I honestly believe we will.”

Penalties were also an issue.

The offense was flagged on four of the six fouls assessed against the Steelers, including one for having 12 men in the huddle. Four additional penalties against the Steelers’ offense either were declined or offset by a corresponding foul against the Chiefs.

“It ends up looking, in the grand scheme of things, like the offense was just all over the place, and maybe we were,” Roethlisberger said. “But they’re little things, nothing glaring, no reason to panic.

“Our defense stepped up and filled a void that the offense couldn’t quite muster.”