Breaking down the tape: When push comes to shove

Check out the highlight photos from the Steelers vs Chiefs game. The Chiefs defeated the Steelers 23-13 on October 25th 2015.

A look back at the Steelers' 23-13 loss to the Chiefs via the magic of the DVR:

YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE: Alejandro Villanueva got off to the start he was seeking but was unable to finish giving the Steelers what they needed.

On the first snap of his first career start at left offensive tackle on Sunday in Kansas City, Villanueva handled LB Tamba Hali one-on-one and QB Landry Jones hit WR Martavis Bryant for a gain of 19.

But on first-and-10 from the Kansas City 39-yard line with 2:11 left in regulation, Hali beat Villanueva, got to Jones and forced a fumble that was recovered by KC DT Jaye Howard. Villanueva got credit for the tackle but that was game, set and match.

The first of Kansas City's two sacks had occurred on third-and-7 from the Kansas City 10 on the Steelers' previous possession. Hali cut inside Villanueva on a stunt and dropped Jones. The Steelers, down 16-10, settled for a field goal.

"I just have to stay more vertical," Villanueva said of Hali's first sack.

As for the second, "He just beat me off the ball," Villanueva said. "I wish I could take that play back. I know I can block that type of rush but I didn't. He stripped the ball, they got the ball, they won the game so I have to deal with that now and use it as motivation to get better."

Pressure on Jones wasn't an issue through much of the game.

The Steelers had a tight end lined up to Villanueva's left on 16 of Jones' 29 attempts (15 times it was Heath Miller). But a tight end presence didn't automatically mean double-team help for Villanueva.

It wasn't uncommon for Miller to chip Hali or OLB Dee Ford on the way into a pattern. Miller also stayed in to handle one blocking assignment while Villanueva dealt with another when the Kansas City rush dictated the Steelers play it that way. RBs DeAngelo Williams and Le'Veon Bell also helped out on occasion, as did LG Ramon Foster when otherwise unoccupied against four-man pressures.

Villanueva went against Hali, Ford and DL Allen Bailey and helped keep Jones clean until the fourth quarter.

"He's cool," Foster assessed. "I think it was (Haloti) Ngata a few years ago, came in inside of me and broke Ben (Roethlisberger's) nose. So hey, you can't hold your head down on that right there. We've all been there, everybody across the line.

"Worst thing you can do is show somebody you're sweating. He'll be fine. It's a learning experience, first time starting. I'm proud of him."

THE TIGHT END AGAIN: KC's Travis Kelce didn't score three TDs against the Steelers, the way New England's Rob Gronkowski had on Sept. 10, or catch a pair of touchdown passes, as Antonio Gates had on Oct. 12 in San Diego.

But Kelce's 26-yard reception over LB Lawrence Timmons on third-and-4 from the KC 26 after the Steelers had closed to within 16-13 in the fourth quarter might have been as critical a play as any.

Kelce had four catches for 47 yards to that point and had drawn the attention of S Robert Golden, CB Antwon Blake, LB Ryan Shazier, CB William Gay, S Mike Mitchell, LB Arthur Moats and Timmons, among others, depending upon where Kelce had lined up and what coverage the Steelers were using.

Timmons said he knew the ball was coming to Kelce, as did the Steelers' sideline.

The CBS crew seemed likewise convinced, in retrospect.

"There was only one place (QB) Alex Smith was going with that ball from the get-go," play-by-play man Greg Gumbel maintained.

Added color analyst Trent Green: "Alex Smith knew that he had Lawrence Timmons and Travis Kelce one-on-one down the middle of the field and took advantage of it."


WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE:** The Steelers ran against an eight-man box on fourth-and-1 from the KC 17 the first time they had the ball and made it work. Williams was able to run for 3 yards between TE Matt Spaeth and RT Marcus Gilbert, who, along with RG Dave DeCastro, had managed to get LB Josh Mauga, Howard and LB Derrick Johnson either occupied, turned or knocked off the line of scrimmage.

The Steelers' second attempt at blocking and eight-man box with five offensive linemen and two tight ends didn't go nearly as well.

Williams went nowhere on fourth-and-1 from the KC 32 in the second quarter. This time NT Dontari Poe got penetration up the middle between C Cody Wallace and DeCastro, and LB Justin Houston and Johnson crashed hard off the right side of the offensive formation, which forced Williams left.

Miller was on the left side of the formation, one-on-two with S Eric Berry and Ford. Miller blocked Berry and Ford dropped Williams.

ONE DETAIL LACKING: The Steelers tried a little deception on third-and-2 from the KC 6 in the first quarter.

Bell lined up wide-right in a two-receivers, two-tight ends, one-back look, and then motioned back across the formation, simulating a wide receiver sweep. Williams, left of Jones in the backfield initially, broke right as Bell continued running left. Jones rolled right and threw on the run for Williams, who had been bumped by Houston behind the line of scrimmage and then turned loose as Houston continued to chase Jones.

Jones hit Williams at the 4.

The closest defender was CB Marcus Peters at the 1.

Williams didn't make the catch.

"Nicely conceived play," Gumbel observed, "and nicely executed except for the drop."

It was the second of seven consecutive third downs the Steelers failed to convert to close out the game after moving the chains on two of their first three attempts.

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