PITTSBURGH (AP) — The previous time the Pittsburgh Steelers faced an Andy Reid-inspired offense, things didn’t go so well.
At least, not for the Steelers.
Thankfully the memories are fresh. Too fresh for some.
Perhaps the best thing the Steelers can say about the 34-3 embarrassment at the hands of the Reid disciple Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday is that it’s over.
“That’s last week,” Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We’re not looking back, we’re going forward.”
With a familiar face ready to pitch in.
Running back Le’Veon Bell returns from a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, giving an offense that looked like one of the league’s best before its pratfall on the other side of Pennsylvania another versatile weapon as it prepares for Kansas City.
“I’m pretty sure they’re going to utilize me, move me around a little bit,” said Bell, who hasn’t played since tearing the MCL in his right knee last November against Kansas City.
Bell might not be the only high-profile back ready to run through the tunnel following a long layoff.
Chiefs star Jamaal Charles is close to completing his nearly yearlong comeback from a torn ACL in his right knee. While Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West have filled in capably this season for the Chiefs (2-1), Charles — like Bell — is a unique talent .
That might be an issue for the Steelers, who watched Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz spend three hours expertly picking them apart with a series of screens and underneath routes that Pederson — a former player and assistant under Reid — might as well have photocopied out of his mentor’s playbook. And Pederson’s old boss noticed.
“Yeah, they did do a nice job, and they did some good things in there,” Reid said. “Every week is different, but it’s obviously the same offense or similar to, so that’s a positive.”
Some things to look for as the Chiefs try for their first victory in Pittsburgh since 1986.
BALL HAWKS: Kansas City’s defense forced eight turnovers in a victory over the New York Jets last Sunday, including a pair of interceptions by cornerback Marcus Peters. The 2015 AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year is rapidly becoming one of the best in the league at his position.
“(He’s) intercepting the ball at an alarming rate,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He has great ball skills. He is a calculated risk taker.”
And he will likely find himself seeing plenty of Pittsburgh star wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown hauled in 12 passes against the Eagles, but most of them were in garbage time as Pittsburgh tried to make the final score more cosmetically pleasing.
BACK TO BLITZBURGH? Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler has been reluctant to bring much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, preferring instead to drop seven or eight players into coverage to help protect a young secondary. It might be time for a change. Pittsburgh is 31st against the pass and is also last in sacks, the lone one on the record a harmless touch down of Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton for no gain in Week 2. The Steelers didn’t get close to Wentz and face one of the league’s most mobile quarterbacks in Alex Smith.
TWO-HEADED MONSTER? Pittsburgh hardly skipped a beat without Bell over the past year thanks in large part to the play of DeAngelo Williams. The 33-year-old helped power the Steelers to the playoffs in 2015 and led the NFL in rushing before becoming an afterthought in Week 3 after the Steelers fell hopelessly behind. Tomlin hasn’t ruled out putting both players on the field at the same time, likely with Bell serving as a third or fourth receiver in some formations while Williams stays in to block. Williams and Bell insist they’re not wasting a lot of time counting snaps.
“We’re two very unselfish guys,” Bell said. “We want to make sure we do whatever it takes to win the Super Bowl.”
FINISHING TOUCH: As definitive as the 24-3 final score against the Jets looked, Smith knows it should have been even more lopsided after being gifted eight turnovers. The defense and special teams scored on two of the takeaways, meaning the offense only managed to score 10 points despite getting numerous opportunities to put New York away. Those opportunities can’t be missed on the road in a place that’s been historically troublesome.
“You’d love to score more points,” Smith said. “There’s a few possessions where I thought we could have done more.”
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