Chiefs Show Grit In 27-24 Win Over Steelers

With their first win at Arrowhead this season, beating the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24, the Kansas City Chiefs did something they have not done in a long time - win back to back games. They are now 3-2 in their last five games and all of a sudden are showing signs of life under head coach Todd Haley.

For the first time this season, I write positively, and actually, I'm a bit giddy. It probably has something to do with my weekly chat on KSHB this week, where I said the Chiefs would beat the Steelers. It was just one of those feelings.

Kansas City proved me right by coming out in the second half and hitting the Steelers in the mouth. For the first time this season, Haley changed directions at halftime and came up with some fresh ideas. The Steelers were ill-prepared when Matt Cassel actually found time in the pocket and started throwing the ball down the field.

The difference make was wide receiver Chris Chambers. His 61-yard catch and run set up the game-winning field goal by rookie kicker Ryan Succop. Chambers continues to step up in crunch time and is quickly becoming a playmaker for the Chiefs. He caught four balls for 119 yards Sunday. Imagine what he could have done against a flat Steelers secondary if he caught six or eight passes.

It all starts with the quarterback, however. Cassel, after a rocky first half, threw a pair of touchdowns and played mistake-free football other than a fumble. He was cool in the pocket and once his offensive line gave him time, he spread the ball around to backs receivers, and tight ends. Sunday may have been his best game as a Chief, and he should gain confidence the final six games of the season.

The other exciting aspect of this game was Jamaal Charles' return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown. He can't touch the ball enough for this football team. His 97-yard return shows what happens when you don't give up on a play. Charles was nearly tackled three times but found his footing and outran Pittsburgh's coverage units.

If not for that, the Chiefs probably lose, because the Steelers racked up 515 yards of offense Sunday. Even so, KC's defense never quit. Players like linebackers Andy Studebaker (two interceptions) and Jovan Belcher, who made a great tackle in overtime that forced a Steeler punt, showed up when it mattered most.

The Chiefs encountered a little luck when Ben Roesthlisberger went down with a head injury, but even so, backup Charlie Batch had the Steelers on the move and in position to attempt a long game-winning field goal. It's been a long time since all three phases of this football team contributed to a victory. I can't remember the last time it happened. We might have to go back to the Dick Vermeil era to find it.

Haley deserves credit, and he appears to have survived the Larry Johnson saga. A win like this gives a franchise reason to hope. It could save Haley's future, and if he keeps winning, he will certainly get another year to build on. It's clear he's evolving as a head coach. Sunday, he played one of his embattled players, linebacker Derrick Johnson, who came up with a big sack late in the game.

Maybe this win will change things the rest of the season. Haley's Bunch showed courage Sunday, and learned their lesson from an overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys earlier this year. They are learning from their mistakes. That's a sign of a growing football team.

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