Home Defense Analyzing the Steelers Defense on Mahomes’ Six Touchdowns

Analyzing the Steelers Defense on Mahomes’ Six Touchdowns

by Chris Nicolaou

In the 42-37 Kansas City Chiefs win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Patrick Mahomes threw 28 times, completing 23 of them for 326 yards and six touchdowns. Yes, six touchdowns. Today we’re going to rewatch each of those six painful touchdowns and see where the defense ultimately went wrong.

Touchdown One | Score: 0-0 | 2nd & 15 on PIT 15

Looks like Pittsburgh is running a dime subpackage.

Mike Hilton, number 28, looks confused post-snap. Him and Morgan Burnett, number 42, have some communication issues, and both assume the same responsibility. They’re worried about Travis Kelce, leaving the slot wide receiver, Chris Conley, open for the easy touchdown. Television view makes it look like Artie Burns is at fault, but he was trying to cover up for their mistake and attempt at a recovery. Conley was Mahomes’ first read and he made a great throw.

Touchdown Two | Score: 0-7 | 2nd & 9 on PIT 19

The Steelers are running Cover 2 here from their nickel package. The outside cornerbacks each have flat responsibilities, while the slot cornerback and both inside linebackers have middle zone responsibilities. The safeties are each tasked with the deep left and right half zone.

Image result for cover 2 nickel defense

Vince Williams ends up only getting five yards of depth, which gave Kelce the inside track to expose the defense’s weakness for the touchdown. A weakness that wasn’t designed to exist. If Williams gets the depth he’s supposed to (seven yards), he prevents that pass from being completed.

Touchdown Three | Score: 0-14 | 3rd & 5 on PIT 5

The Steelers are in a heavy dime subpackage with Morgan Burnett in at linebacker and  Terrell Edmunds in at strong safety. In man coverage, the Steelers also run a stunt. Mahomes feels the pressure and dumps the football off to his safety net, who schools Edmunds for an easy touchdown, a play the first round pick must make. Instead of a 1 yard loss, or no gain, it’s six points for Kansas City. Daunting. Score is now 0-21.

Touchdown Four | Score: 21-21 | 2nd & 9 on PIT 25

More dime subpackage defense with TJ Watt and Burnett at linebacker. Kelce simply runs a seam route into the open deep middle zone and hauls in the easy touchdown. This is the second time this game he has run this route for a touchdown. The linebackers don’t get the depth needed, and neither safety can close in time. Just a really bad defensive scheme there.

Touchdown Five | Score 28-28 | 2nd & 1 on PIT 3

The defense is in their goal line base defense. Post-snap the linebackers bite on the play action a bit, and the secondary is in man coverage. Artie Burns is beat quickly off the line of scrimmage and has to trail the receiver, who is running a crossing route. Great catch by Demarcus Robinson for the touchdown. Burns can’t get beat off the line of scrimmage so quickly, he needs to jam the receiver to by himself some time and to read the play. The defense as a whole played this play well, Mahomes just found the only open receiver for six.

Touchdown Six | Score 28-35 | 2nd & 13 on PIT 29

The defense is running Cover-1, which is a terrible idea against a 5-wide. Only one safety deep and you rely solely on the man coverage to do their job. Here, Artie Burns gets ‘burnt’ off the snap and is looking at the back of Tyreek Hill’s jersey by the seventh yard. Mahomes puts the ball in Hill’s hands for six. All on Artie. The defense played this well from a man-coverage standpoint aside from Burns, and Hilton allowed too much separation on the slant route. This play was doomed from the beginning with Cover-1 being the play call. Keith Butler’s rough day continued.

Image result for cover 1

Overall, the pass defense really struggled. From miscommunications, to just getting beat one-on-one. The defensive scheme and playcalls were very vanilla and easily figured out. You could tell on a few of these touchdowns, that the defense was terrified of either Hill or Kelce getting the ball, which then in turn opened up opportunity for the other. Being picked apart by a guy with two career starts is very worrisome going forward. Credit to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes for scheming so well, being prepared and executing almost perfectly.

If you want thoughts on the game as a whole, SteelDad wrote an article detailing the ins and outs here. If you want thoughts on how the Steelers butchered the clock management, Ian wrong an article on that here.

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