3 improvements Steelers must make to beat the Chiefs

If the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t change these mistakes, they won’t defeat the Kansas City Chiefs.

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers on the 11th straight win of the season. Now that it’s out of the way, what in the world was that, Pittsburgh?

Outside of a pick-6 from Joe Haden in the first quarter, the next touchdown from the Steelers’ high-tempo offense didn’t come until the start of the fourth quarter. The Baltimore Ravens defense held Pittsburgh to multiple drives of self-inflicted wounds, while the defense was lucky it saw Robert Griffin IIII trotting out there instead of Lamar Jackson.

And let’s not even talk about Trace McSorely.

In a way, due to all the COVID-19 concerns that pushed one of the more exciting games in the NFL season so far back, it was snooze-fest on the way to a 19-14 victory. However, if this is the Steelers team that Patrick Mahomes would be facing in the AFC Championship round, it’s clear the Kansas City Chiefs dynasty is alive and well.

For Pittsburgh to look like the team to beat, these changes must be made on both sides of the ball to help them head back to the Super Bowl.

3. Limit Diontae Johnson’s targets

Entering Wednesday, plenty around the league believed that second-year wideout Diontae Johnson could be one of the best receivers on the roster. With vertical speed and great route-running skills, Johnson has the tools to be the next Antonio Brown in the Steel City.

Pump the brakes there, kids. He’s got a long way to go.

Johnson was targeted a team-high 13 times against the Ravens’ secondary. He hauled in eight catches, saw one fly over his head and dropped the remaining four. Two times could have been for gains that would have put Pittsburgh in the red zone. Instead, they flipped right out of his fingertips. And let’s not talk about how one of his catches also was a fumble that flew out of bounds.

Ben Roethlisberger loves his young receivers and Johnson has quietly been the first read all season, leading the team in 81 targets. However, he’s only caught 60 percent of those throws this season, meaning they’re either drops or overshot plays. As much as the team might like him, Kansas City isn’t going to have many three-and-outs to let Pittsburgh waste a drive.

If the yips keep happening for Johnson, the Steelers must limit his plays and make sure the second he drops a pass, he becomes the third or fourth option.

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