What happened to the Chiefs rushing offense vs. the Steelers?

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Alex Smith
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Alex Smith /

The Kansas City Chiefs somehow struggled to run the football against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

If you’re wondering what happened to the Kansas City Chiefs rushing attack on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, you’re asking a good question. Coming into Week 6, it seemed like the resurgent Chiefs, the lone undefeated team in the NFL, were perfectly primed to finally topple the Steelers in 2017, the same team who defeated them twice in 2016 and knocked them out of the playoffs at Arrowhead just last January.

The reason for the Chiefs hope was Kareem Hunt, the leading candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. So far this season, the team’s third round draft choice out of Toledo is leading the NFL in rushing and came into the game against the Steelers with a total of 609 rushing yards in only five games. He also added another 166 receiving yards, good for an incredible total of 775 yards from scrimmage.

Yet when the final clock hit 0:00 and the Steelers were ready to leave Arrowhead with another road victory, this time a 19-13 nailbiter, Kareem Hunt had rushed for only 21 yards. Even more, the entire Chiefs team had rushed only 15 times for 28 rushing yards and 0 touchdowns.

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Just how did the Steelers come up so big against the run this time around? Over the previous 3 weeks, the Steelers had given up a combined 527 rushing yards to the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs were running the ball better than any and all of those teams and yet the Steelers go from giving up an average of over 175 rushing yards to allowing only 28—an incredible shift that made a significant difference.

It didn’t help that West went down early with a potential concussion after taking a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit from Mike Mitchell. However the Steelers clearly were able to lock down the Chiefs running game early and despite the close score throughout the game, the Chiefs took to the air more than ever.

Kareem Hunt’s total of only 14 touches were a season low for the rookie, so perhaps it says something that it was also the Chiefs first loss. Hunt also only had 9 total carries, 20 less than last week’s win over the Houston Texans. If the Chiefs are going to win on a short week against the Oakland Raiders, Hunt will likely be the centerpiece once again. Here’s hoping the ground game gets back on track and that Andy Reid can figure out what the Steelers were doing so effectively to stop them so well.