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[Pittsburgh,Pa] They had to endure a lightning delay and a late start (8:30pm) but when the skies cleared, the Pittsburgh Steelers overcame a sloppy start and beat the KC Chiefs 17-7 in front of 50,668 patrons at Heinz Field.
Wide out James Washington once again stole the show as he caught 4 passes for 78 yards, and rookie Wide Reciever Diontae Johnson scored his first NFL TD when he hauled in a 24-yard pass from undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges. Overall, the Steeler WRs caught 18 passes for 210 yards and a TD for the night.
“It was good. we got ourselves together and did enough to win the game. I thought we had somewhat of a sloppy start.”Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, whose Steelers improved to 2-0 in the 2019 preseason. “We were not catching the ball and things of that nature early on and not converting third downs. I thought we settled down as the game went on and made some plays to be the difference for us. Good energy and enthusiasm just need a little bit better execution, little better fundamentals, particularly at the early stages of the game. I thought largely our focus and our approach was good given that we had a delay. The performance probably spoke otherwise at the start.”
In the first quarter, it appeared that both teams had problems adjusting to the wet field resulting in dropped and overthrown passes. The first Touchdown didn’t come until late in the second quarter when Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels literally walked into the endzone on a 14-yard run for a 7-0 lead;Samuels finished with 26 yards. On the next drive, the Chiefs responded with a TD of their own when quarterback Chad Henne found WR Mecole Hardman for a 17-yard TD pass to tie the game at 7.
The score remained tied until 12:47 in the 4th quarter when Steelers Kicker Matthew Wright kicked a 46-yard Field Goal to give the Steelers a 10-7 lead and the final points came with 4:22 left when Hodges found Johnson for the spectacular TD pass in which he dove past his defender to haul in the pass. It appeared that the tip of the ball may have hit the ground, but the catch was upheld on the review and the Steelers for the insurance points needed to secure the win.
“It was a good start for him, but we will see.” Tomlin said of Johnson. “That is a good place to build upon. Good initial start.”
The battle for the #2 QB start continued as Mason Rudolph (who started the game) went 10-15 with 77 yards, and Joshua Dobbs went 6/11 for 77 yards and an interception. Hodges went 2-4 for 38 yards and a TD.
When asked if Rudolph has separated himself from the other QBs, Tomlin replied “Not as we sit here right now.”
The Steelers defense made strides as they held the first-team offense (led by QB Patrick Mahomes) to 0 points and forced 3 fumbles overall. “Yeah, that was encouraging.” Said Tomlin regarding the fumbles. “I would like to see us maintain possession of the ball a little bit better than we did in the game. I think that turnover margin speaks to both sides. We must be good at getting it, but we also must be good at securing it. We got some today, but we also gave some up today. We have some more work ahead of us.”
The Steelers other turnover happened when WR Donte Moncrief fumbled the ball after catching a pass from Rudolph in the first quarter. The ball was recovered by the Chiefs.
The Steelers had 3 sacks on the night, 2 by LineBacker Bud Dupree who is hoping to make a splash this season in the final year of his contract. When asked about he and fellow LB TJ Watt’s performance, Tomin replied “I thought they brought great energy. I thought they were productive. It was a good representation of them.”
For the Chiefs, Henne led this team with 96 yards passing and a TD, and WR Cody Thompson caught 7 passes for 69 yards as they fall to 1-1.
The Steelers will now take the road for their final 2 preseason games, beginning with a trip to Tennessee to face the Titans next Sunday at 8pm.
Notes: The team held a moment of silence in honor of WR coach Darryl Drake who passed away last Sunday. They also have a decal of Drake’s initials on the back of their helmet that they will wear all season. Tomlin on how it was an emotional day: “This has been a very difficult week. If anything, the game was probably a break from that. You get lost in the things that you need to do. Everything surrounding it obviously was.”
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