Sunday’s game started off like many others have this season, with the Chiefs offense settling for field goals in the red zone.
However, thanks to solid performances from Alex Smith, Charcandrick West and a depleted receiving core, the offense picked things up in the second half en route to a 23-13 win.
The Chiefs checked off all their keys to victory, as they were able to establish the run game, push the ball down the field and eliminate the mental mistakes. Kansas City won the turnover battle 3-0 and that ultimately was the difference in the game.
Smith did more than just take care of the ball this week, as he stayed in the pocket longer, targeted all his options and even stretched the field. He finished 21 of 32 for 251 yards and one 4th quarter touchdown pass to Chris Conley.
Kansas City was without Jeremy Maclin, so it was vital that the likes of Conley, Albert Wilson, and De’Anthony Thomas step up in his place. Conley, a rookie out of Georgia, made up for a less than stellar performance last week with a 63-yard receiving day, including one score.
Wilson followed up his 57-yard game last week with a 71-yard performance this Sunday, including a 44-yard burst where he broke numerous Pittsburgh tackles. This combo added with tight end Travis Kelce, gave Smith more than enough weapons to work with.
Kelce was often times Smith’s go to man on third down, and the targets paid off as the Chiefs were a season’s best 9 for 16 on third down. Kelce hauled in five passes for 73 yards, many of which came after the catch, as Kelce is second in the league in total yards after the catch.
This kind of production was only possible because of the offensive line’s improved play. Andy Reid made a switch this week to start Eric Fisher on the left side with Jeff Allen at right tackle. It worked wonders. The interior had trouble reading some blitzing stunts, but overall, Smith had time to stretch the field to deep threats like Conley, as well as an improved rushing attack.
After Jamaal Charles went down, many thought the run game duties would split between West and Knile Davis.
However, after two weeks of play, it’s evident that West is their go to option. The Abilene Christian alum exploded for 110 yards on 22 carries including his first career rushing touchdown. Davis on the other hand, was given just one carry.
The Chiefs offense fed off each other on Sunday as every facet functioned together. The line’s ability to open up holes gave West plenty of room to show off his elusive talent. With the run game established, Smith was then able to stretch the field with speedy targets like Wilson and Conley. Constantly keeping Pittsburgh on their toes, the only thing that kept this game from becoming a blowout was the Chiefs red zone offense.
Three more short field goals this week continues to be an issue, as the ball was rarely thrown in to the end zone. However, a solid week like this might give Smith the confidence he needs to finish off drives with seven points rather than three.
It was a positive day for Reid and the Kansas City offense as young players like West ran with a decisive purpose, Conley and Wilson showed flashes of potential, and the line kicked things up another level. With only one game left before their bye week, Kansas City will square off in London against the Detroit Lions with kickoff set for 8:30 a.m. central time.
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