Game Balls: Chiefs vs. Steelers

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 in OT today at Arrowhead Stadium.  The thrilling victory over the defending Super Bowl champions was one of the biggest the Chiefs have had in years and for the first time in a long while the team got big plays from the offense, defense and special teams.

These are the most rewarding game balls we’ve had the chance to hand out around here.

Offense: Matt Cassel

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(photos via David Eulitt)

Cassel, along with most of the Chiefs offense, struggled mightily in the first half.  But he gutted out another week without much protection and delivered when he needed to the most.  With the help of Chris Chambers and Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs quarterback tied the game at the end of regulation and then setup Ryan Succop’s game winning FG.

The fact that it could be argued either Chambers or Charles could be in this spot proves that Todd Haley’s system is finally sinking in and should take off once the offensive line starts to hold up their end of the bargain more often.

Defense: Andy Studebaker

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The young linebacker delivered one of the the biggest plays of the game with his 94-yard oh-so-close to a TD interception return that led to the tying FG in the third quarter.  But it shouldn’t be overlooked that at no point during his first career start did the game seem to big for him, a huge concern for a guy only two years removed from being a non-scholarship player at D-III Wheaton College.

On top of the long INT, he also picked off Roethlisberger earlier in the third quarter after a long kick return by Pittsburgh gave the Steelers great field position.  To go along with the interceptions, Studebaker also recorded 6 tackles and half of a sack for a defense that showed heart all day long even as Big Ben proved difficult to take down.

Before the game I said the entire Chiefs defense would feel the ripple effect if Studebaker could not handle the big stage.  He more than handled it today and should calm the nerves of defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast as he awaits the return of Mike Vrabel from a knee injury.

Special Teams: Jamaal Charles

JamaalCharlesSteelers

Ryan Succop may have kicked the game winning FG, but it was Charles that sent the tone for the game when he returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.  If there were any questions about the effort the Kansas City Chiefs would put out there against the defending Super Bowl champs, there weren’t once Charles put his team on the board seconds into the game.

The special teams units as a whole were great today.  If you need signs that this team is “getting it” you need not look any further than special teams.

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