Game 5 Report Card: Steelers vs. Chiefs
Monday, October 16, 2006
STEELERS VS. CHIEFS
Quarterback: It looked like last year for Ben Roethlisberger, especially in the first half when he completed 13 of 15 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns and had a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He had pass plays of 28, 47 and 50 yards after having just two longer than 25 yards in the first three games and did not throw an interception.
Running Back: Willie Parker rushed for 78 of his 109 yards in the first half and scored on runs of 3 and 8 yards. He also had a 25-yard run to set up his second touchdown. But Parker also fumbled twice, one which was recovered by the Chiefs. Najeh Davenport had 66 of his 78 yards on two carries.
Receivers: The big play returned to the offense and, for a change, they were provided by the wide receivers. Santonio Holmes had a 50-yard catch and run to set up the first touchdown, Nate Washington made a nice play to bounce off safety Jarrad Page on a 47-yard touchdown and Hines Ward caught a 28-yard pass on a deep slant to set up the third touchdown. Holmes also had a 13-yard run for first down off a direct snap.
Offensive Line: After a poor performance a week ago in San Diego, the line rebounded very well. The Steelers rushed for a season-high 219 yards, including 154 in the first half, and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. What's more, Roethlisberger had lots of time to throw.
Defensive Line: Larry Johnson was held to his lowest total since becoming a starter -- 26 yards on 15 carries -- and didn't have a run longer than 8 yards. That's because the line did a good maintaining gaps and did not let Johnson get started downhill. DE Brett Keisel, who had four tackles, did a good job maintaining position when the Chiefs tried to run at OLB Arnold Harrison.
Linebackers: Probably the surprise performance of the game was turned in by Harrison, making his first NFL start in place of Joey Porter. He tipped a pass, dropped Johnson for a 3-yard loss on a swing pass and drew a holding penalty on a pass rush that negated a touchdown to tight end Tony Gonzalez. Chad Brown, in his first game with the Steelers in 10 years, had a sack and ILB Rian Wallace returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown.
Secondary: QB Damon Huard completed only 16 of 32 passes for 162 yards and gained most of his yards after the score was 31-0. The secondary did not allow a pass play longer than 25 yards. SS Troy Polamalu made nine solo tackles, including a great stop on third-and-1 to drop Johnson for a 2-yard loss. He returned an interception 49 yards and broke up a pass in the end zone.
Special Teams: Holmes finally got a chance to run with some punts, and he had returns of 24 and 20 yards in the first half. He also had kickoff returns of 26 and 28 yards. But he also muffed a punt that was recovered by Ike Taylor and also fumbled on a punt return that was recovered by Bryant McFadden. Also, Jeff Reed was wide right with a 28-yard field goal, his first miss from inside the 40 in 41 attempts.
Coaching: Whatever Bill Cowher told the players during the week, it worked, as the Steelers put together their most complete performance of the season. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt got Roethlisberger more involved -- and more confident -- with high-percentage plays that morphed into other big plays.