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Steelers film study: Defensive line sags against run

| Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, 7:58 p.m.
Steelers defensive tackle Ziggy Hood celebrates stopping the Chiefs on third down at Heinz Field Nov. 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Christopher Horner
The Chiefs' Jamaal Charles scores a touchdown past the Steelers' Casey Hampton during the first quarter Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 at Heinz Field. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Kansas City came into Monday's game wanting to run to the right.

And that's what they did over and over again.

The Chiefs targeted the left side of the Steelers' defense relentlessly and successfully, but don't mistake the Chiefs' 103 yards rushing on 22 attempts to that side of the field as all defensive end Ziggy Hood's fault, because it wasn't. He had plenty of help.

Hood was credited for two tackles and wasn't double-teamed once, but for the most part, Hood did what defensive line coach John Mitchell asks his defensive ends to do — hold the point of attack.

Now, Hood was responsible of getting out of his gap that allowed Jamaal Charles to cut inside and score from 12 yards in the first quarter, but after that, he was in position for the majority of the game but didn't make the play when he had the opportunity.

But it wasn't only him.

What has become a problem with the defensive line is that it has struggled disengaging blocks in order to make tackles. Hood isn't exempt from that, nor is Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel or linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison.

All of them struggled getting off blocks and making tackles in the run game against a pretty good run-blocking offensive line.

Even backups Al Woods, Steve McLendon and Cameron Heyward struggled stopping the run to the right in the limited time they were in the game.

During a series in the third quarter, the backups were in the game and allowed a pair of 7-yard runs to the right side, followed by a 9-yard run successively.

The Chiefs ran 13 of their first 15 plays to the right side and continued to run that way, despite coming into the game running more to the left side (120 attempts-508 yards) of their offensive line over Branden Albert than they did the right side (112-544).

Still, the longest run the Steelers allowed was 12 yards.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

• On paper, Byron Leftwich may not appear to fit in Todd Haley's dink-and-dunk offensive scheme in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger's injury. However, Leftwich showed he can check-it-down with the best of them. Leftwich went 7 of 12 for 73 yards on passes fewer than 20 yards down the field, including a pair of completions behind the line of scrimmage against the Chiefs. Roethlisberger was 9 of 13 for 84 yards and a touchdown from that distance.

• Harrison has played all but one snap since coming back from his knee injury Oct. 7, and for the third consecutive game he raised his total tackles. However, Harrison is still struggling making plays: He was credited with seven tackles against the Chiefs, but only one was solo. Not only did Harrison not have a sack or a quarterback hit for the fourth consecutive game or a QB pressure for the second consecutive game, he only got close enough to touch a ball carrier two other times other than his tackles.

• Dick LeBeau preaches to “tackle the catch” to his defensive backs, meaning, don't allow yards after the catch. On the Chiefs' only touchdown drive, the Steelers allowed 26 yards after two catches and gave up another 11 yards on two missed tackles. Out of Kansas City's 164 yards passing, 65 came after the catch.

• Kansas City took the popular approach and didn't blitz Roethlisberger much at all. The Chiefs blitzed Roethlisberger twice (sent five rushers). They rushed three nine times and four eight times. When Leftwich took over early in the third for Roethlisberger, the Chiefs sent an extra rusher often but only blitzed the less-mobile Leftwich twice in 14 dropbacks, but on one of those they rushed six players.

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