Steelers loss to Chiefs a nail in the coffin of 2021 NFL season?

On Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers went down 14 points to the Kansas City Chiefs early in the first quarter. Although Pittsburgh, via losses by the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, was bumped into Wild Card discussion, their lopsided 36-10 loss to Kansas City likely put the nail in the coffin on any further progression in the 2021 NFL season.

Despite COVID protocol challenges, the Steelers were not without the majority of the players who’d been on the field the past two-to-three weeks. Tight end Pat Freiermuth did miss the game, but Zach Gentry wasn’t targeted often and the position was unlikely to make a major difference in defining success in this game.

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Ben Roethlisberger struggled in the windy conditions, but it didn’t help that Diontae Johnson lost a catch for a Chiefs fumble recovery. Chase Claypool made back-to-back catches that stood out, but really did not set a tempo for the Steelers. Ray-Ray McCloud caught a first down pass only to be flagged for taunting, a ridiculously undisciplined and unnecessary action. Roethlisberger tried to get Najee Harris on track only to watch Kansas City win the line of scrimmage battle against his offensive line.

Chris Boswell also had to deal with the windy conditions, missing a field goal in the game.

Defensively, the Steelers struggled to prevent Patrick Mahomes from creating opportunities to completely dominate the options he could utilize. The Chiefs had some powerful runs, a couple of nice deep passes, and receivers who were able to slip free due to poor tackling in the defensive backfield.

There was little to draw from this game as positive for the Steelers.

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Cameron Heyward and Alex Highsmith earned sacks; Highsmith’s sack, early, caused a fumble that the Chiefs were able to fall on.

A 15-yard fourth quarter touchdown pass-and-catch between Roethlisberger and Johnson  was far from exciting because the Chiefs defense had zero concern their team was in any real danger of losing the matchup.

The fact that Pittsburgh had gone five games without a touchdown in the first half – the first time that has happened to the franchise since 1940 – speaks to just how far down the slope the Steelers have slid.

Pittsburgh has two games left this season but will need to win both to even have a postseason shot. At this point, after the loss on Sunday, wins over Cleveland and Baltimore aren’t impossible but the outlook is poor considering the inability to put points on the scoreboard.

The 2021 season is one that the Steelers franchise will have to build off of and then bury in their past.

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