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Steelers notebook: CB Allen strong in return

| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 9:57 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Chiefs' Dwayne Bowe catches a pass in front of Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen during the second quarter Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Chiefs' Donnie Avery eludes Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen during the first quarter Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 at Heinz Field.

Cornerback Cortez Allen has spent much of the preseason on the sidelines nursing a sore knee that required minor surgery early in training camp. Surprisingly, he was inserted into the starting lineup ahead of William Gay in a 26-20 overtime loss to Kansas City on Saturday night at Heinz Field.

The third-year cornerback played aggressive man coverage, and three times he held wide receiver Donnie Avery to short gains. Allen's only miscue came with 4:48 left in the first half when he was called for a late hit on quarterback Alex Smith that aided the Chiefs' first score, a 19-yard field goal by Ryan Succop. But Allen closed the first half by planting wide receiver Dwayne Bowe after a 6-yard reception.

“I don't know if they were or weren't, but they're not going to throw at Ike (Taylor),” said Allen, who led the Steelers with six tackles.

Run defense stuffs Chiefs

The Steelers' run defense was ranked first in the AFC and second in the NFL last season. But after surrendering 146 yards to Washington on Monday, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau expected better against Kansas City. The Steelers held the Chiefs' first-team offense to 48 yards rushing in the first half. Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles was tackled three times for no gain and had 10 yards on seven attempts.

Big Ben absorbs big hits

Linebacker Justin Houston leveled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after muscling past left tackle Mike Adams. But Roethlisberger completed a 49-yard throw to Antonio Brown on the play to key an opening drive that netted a field goal for a 3-0 lead. Houston's hit was a stinging reminder of the blow Roethlisberger took in last year's 16-13 overtime win over Kansas City. Roethlisberger, sacked twice in the first half and hit hard after a 13-yard scoring pass to Jonathan Dwyer, sustained a shoulder injury that sidelined him for three games last season.

Long road to recovery

Tight end David Johnson played for the first time since suffering a knee injury in last year's preseason opener at Philadelphia.

Not-so special teams

Again, the Steelers had issues on special teams. Shaun Suisham had a 52-yard field goal attempt blocked by Tysyn Hartman, and Kansas City return specialist Knile Davis returned a kickoff 109 yards to tie the game, 17-17, late in the third quarter. Davis found a seam in the middle of the field, then sprinted toward the right sideline to outsprint Suisham and J.D. Woods to the end zone. The kickoff coverage team sealed nearly every lane in the first half to leave Kansas with poor field position. The Chiefs didn't get past their 20 on their first two kickoffs.

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rpaulk@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.

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