PITTSBURGH – The Kansas City Chiefs were supposed to present the biggest test to this point in the season for the defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After the Steelers held the NFL’s highest-scoring offense to season lows for yards and points in a 19-13 victory at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday, it might be time to admit this defense is for real.
“We’re a good defense,” said defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
“It was good in a prime-time game to go out and show the world what we can do against an offense like that.”
Largely, it was what the Steelers have done each week as they improved their record to 4-2 heading into an AFC North showdown Sunday against Cincinnati (2-3).
The Steelers had not faced a quarterback ranked in the top 20 in passer rating until Kansas City’s Alex Smith, who leads the NFL in that statistic.
Smith finished with 246 passing yards and one touchdown, but had completed only 6 of 11 passes for 33 yards midway through the third quarter. Smith improved in the fourth quarter, completing 8 of 17 passes for 149 yards, but his passer rating of 88.6 was his lowest of the season.
Coupled with 23 yards the Chiefs lost on three sacks, Kansas City had only 223 yards against the NFL’s top pass defense.
It was the most passing yards allowed by the Steelers in a game this season.
“Honestly, we didn’t know it was that (dominating),” cornerback Joe Haden said. “But in the third quarter we see stats, too. We look up there, we see that, and we just try to get after it.”
It didn’t hurt that the Steelers’ offense, while not scoring a lot of points, was possessing the ball.
Kansas City didn’t have a first down until the final two minutes of the first half and had only two in the game’s first three quarters, the Steelers’ offense had possessions of 9, 12 and 12 plays in the first half. Kansas City ran 17 plays in the first half to Pittsburgh’s 37.
“Yeah, that was nice,” Tuitt said.
The defense was getting off the field time and again.
“That’s what we expect,” said inside linebacker Vince Williams, who had two of Pittsburgh’s three sacks. “Actually, we should have played better. We gave up too many big plays.
“We wanted to come out and play well because last week we lost at home and we felt a little embarrassed. We wanted to come out and lay down the law.”
Now, the key for Pittsburgh will be not sliding back into another sub-par performance, something the Steelers have done two other times.
After holding Minnesota to 237 yards in Week 2, the Steelers allowed 222 rushing yards to Chicago the next week. They slammed the door on Baltimore the next week but then gave up 231 rushing yards in a loss to Jacksonville.
The Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt, who leads the NFL in rushing, was held to 21 yards on nine carries.
“I feel like we can play like this on a consistent basis,” said inside linebacker Ryan Shazier. “This is a really good defense. We displayed some bad football at the beginning of the year and we didn’t really play like we can on a consistent basis. But we can play like this every week.”
Odds and end zones
The Steelers signed safety Jordan Dangerfield to the practice squad and released safety Jacob Hagen. … Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has 700 yards on 48 receptions, both lead the league. Brown also has 11 receptions of 20 or more yards, which leads the NFL. … Running back Le’Veon Bell has accounted for 36 first downs, tops in the NFL. Brown is second with 30.