It went into the books as a 26-20 win for Kansas City but from the Steelers’ perspective Preseason Game No. 3 felt like a 10-10 tie.
For a team that’s still winless in the preseason it’s a start.
And while the first-teamers didn’t finish what had been an encouraging first half, they at least made progress.
Coughing up 10 points in the second quarter’s final 2:57, and the blocked field goal that preceded the Chiefs’ pre-halftime rally, was an unsightly finish to what for the most part had been a good 30 minutes of work.
The defense, in particular, was really on top of its game, right up until it wasn’t.
“We just need to make a couple more plays but I think we’re good,” safety Ryan Clark assessed. “I think we’re ready to start the season.”
It sure looked that way when the Steelers stuffed Jamaal Charles on third-and-1 and again on fourth-and-1 to end Kansas City’s second possession.
The run defense in the first half was solid overall, as the Chiefs gained a mere 48 yards on nine carries with 38 of those coming on an Alex Smith scramble.
The secondary appeared locked in as well, as much of the pressure the Steelers were eventually able to generate resulted initially from tight coverage on the back end.
And the defense forced a field goal three plays after the Chiefs had achieved a first-and-goal at the Pittsburgh 7-yard line.
All of that means a great deal more in terms of the big picture than what happened when the JVs entered the game after halftime.
Enthusiasm over the progress made on defense was also dampened to a degree by reports that rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital for further
examination of a chest injury.
“Obviously, he walked off under his own power but he’s being looked at right now,” head coach Mike Tomlin said of Jones.
Still, even the health news wasn’t all bad.
“It’s definitely the best I’ve felt in a long time, for sure,” safety Troy Polamalu reported afterward.
At 0-3 (or, depending on your perspective, at 0-2-1) you take what you can get.