From the notebook of a sportswriter who stayed away from social media during the game and is late with his column after the game because of low expectations for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Kansas City:
* And I was surprised because the performance was better than anticipated.
* The Steelers played with the emotion that I did not expect. Re-watch the tape and tell me otherwise.
* At one practice last week the Steelers were so flat they looked like a team coming off two upset wins with a 1-5 team on deck.
* That's also the day Mike Tomlin was at his saltiest. I think he cursed that flatness out of his team that day.
* This was not some 1-5 St. Louis crowd the Steelers were heading into. This was the great Arrowhead crowd and it's infamous Sea of Red. No, this city doesn't give up on its team, nor give away tickets to anyone holding a yellow towel. This was still a hostile environement.
* Yet, the Steelers committed only one penalty for five yards yesterday.
* The problem was turnovers, and that was my fear with Landry Jones.
* The Steelers have rebuilt their defense to the point that it's better than expected, and is good enough to win a championship with that high-octane offense, but it's not good
enough to win with Jones at QB in a hostile environment against a desperate team.
* Still, Jones is impressing me as a serviceable backup for a championship team. I don't know that he can ever lead them to a championship, but I'm not convinced that he can't, particularly after a couple more years of development.
* In a Frank Reich kind of way.
* While the public (more specifically Las Vegas) wasn't fooled by the quarterback Ramon Foster called "the young superstar after two quarters," the media certainly was. The
opening quote from the sideline reporter was that the Steelers have to "let Landry be Landry."
* Um, no. No, no, no, no, no. Let Le'Veon be Le'Veon. Let Martavis be Martavis. Don't let Landry be Landry.
* I loved the game plan. Of course, I'm reading about "the idiot Tomlin" and all the handoffs to Bell this morning.
* Even saw a scathing rebuke of the Rooney Rule today. C'mon, man.
* I had no problem with handing the ball to DeAngelo Williams on fourth-and-1 instead of attempting a 49-yard field goal. I did have a problem with another first-half play:
Williams' drop of a third-and-2 pass inside the Kansas City 5-yard line.
* And it wasn't like Williams had Big Dan McCullers on him in coverage, either. He just dropped it. Or lost it in the sun.
* As the emotional Steelers defense turned three golden Chiefs opportunities into short field goals, and Cameron Heyward sacked them out of a fourth first-half attempt, I
thought at halftime that the Steelers were going to sneak out of there with a win since the Chiefs weren't taking advantage of their opportunties.
* But also at halftime, TV analyst Trent Green said the key for the Steelers in the second half was this: "Landry Jones. You have to find a way to let him loose."
* Ah, sheesh.
* I thought they needed to find a way to let Heath Miller loose. And they tried. But on the first play of the second half, the Chiefs were thinking the same thing and had Miller
* Another key third-and-short was botched when Jones overthrew Markus Wheaton open at the Kansas City 46. But the Steelers pinned the Chiefs deep and the defense forced a punt.
* And then the deflected pick.
* Not Landry's fault, I get that, but it's that soft and catchable pass he throws that was bounced up into the air with the same velocity one gets out of a kicked balloon.
* Yet, it was the QB's fault in that the ball first bounced off a defensive linemen before getting the lucky balloon treatment off A.B.'s foot.
* Again, Mike Vick throws such an uncatchable ball, his lone interception was reserved for a Hail Mary.
* No one's buying this, I'm sure, but that's why my game plan in my preview was to throw deep and hand off to Bell. I didn't want to see bouncing balloons over the middle.
* The Chiefs took the ball following the turnover and drove for a touchdown. Right before the touchdown run, replay picked up a fumble at the goal line. Tomlin was criticized
all over the 'net for not calling for a replay. But there was no indication the Steelers had recovered -- from anyone on the field or from the abbreviated tape.
* It would've been foolish to put their second timeout at risk down 16-3 with 4:23 left in the third quarter.
* Criticism of the Rooney Rule wouldn't have been the only silly remark made on social media had Tomlin called for a replay there.
* Of course, the backup quarterback then wasted that second timeout on the following possession. You'll have that with backup quarterbacks, of course.
* But the backup quarterback then took the Steelers down the field to answer with a touchdown pass to Bryant. Just Landry being Landry I guess.
* The emotional defense forced a punt, but it was a 57-yard bomb that the ace return man danced his way for a 2-yard return.
* Yet, the Steelers roared back. Bell's 42-yard run behind Will Johnson on their weak-side counter put the Steelers in position to take the lead. Tamba Hali said no, with his
first of two critical sacks, and the field goal provided the Steelers' final points.
* As for the defense that missed tackles on two plays and is now being blamed for the loss, I believe the perfect third-and-4 pass to Travis Kelce, with the Steelers' best
coverage backer on him, just in front of the two deep safeties, took all the juice out of the unit. Sometimes the other team makes plays, too, and Alex Smith has made a few of them over the years.
* What this game showed me is that the Steelers continue to build depth. Brandon Boykin flashed a couple of times in reserve and this week I believe he'll be joined by Doran
Grant as backup cornerbacks. Robert Golden is playing well as a backup safety. The four outside linebackers are all productive and the reserve inside backers carried the load until Ryan Shazier returned. I wouldn't mind a bit more depth at defensive tackle -- particularly when McCullers is running deep in coverage -- but backup offensive tackle
Alejandro Villanueva fared will until the second Hali sack. The Steelers have depth at receiver, running back, fullback, the interior OL and I'm enjoying Xavier Grimble as a future hopeful at tight end.
* And then there's Landry. No, he doesn't need to be "let loose," but he's become serviceable. He's showing he can win games. He lost this one, and that's how it goes in the fishbowl of NFL quarterbacking, but even this loss will make him better.
* It's a team that continues to grow. And yesterday's loss won't sway me on that.