Seven days after the Steelers were completely and utterly humiliated by the Eagles, they happily returned the favor against the Chiefs on "Sunday Night Football." And while a bounce-back performance wasn't unexpected -- it's happened frequently during the Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin era -- the manner in which it unfolded was certainly a surprise, especially since Philadelphia and Kansas City run virtually the same offense.
But there were no similarities in what Carson Wentz and the Eagles accomplished in Week 3 and what Alex Smith and the Chiefs stumbled their way through at Heinz Field. The good news is that it's only one game, and the Chiefs are now on their bye week. Plus, it could always be worse -- at least they're not the Chargers.
Back on Earth...
1. Big Ben looked like, well, Big Ben
The Eagles stymied the Steelers' high-powered offense, and the expectation was that the Chiefs would do the same. But defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who favors rushing five or six and playing man coverage behind that, had no answer for, well, anything the Steelers' offense did in the first 40 minutes. Darrius Heyward-Bey was wide open on this first-quarter touchdown reception:
And Antonio Brown, arguably the league's best wide receiver, faced only single coverage on the third touchdown pitch-and-catch of the first quarter:
(More on the post-touchdown celebration below.)
And then there was perhaps the saddest play you'll ever see. Watch rookie defensive back D.J. White totally forget that he was in the middle of playing football as he gets turned around on this Markus Wheaton touchdown catch early in the third quarter to give the Steelers' a 36-0 lead:
The biggest takeaway isn't any huge indictment on the current state of the Chiefs; occasionally teams lose handily, and the Steelers are well aware of this fact after the shellacking they took in Philly. The biggest takeaway is how the Chiefs bounce back after a week off. Heading into Week 4, this defense, which was destroyed in Pittsburgh, ranked No. 4 in the league, according to Football Outsiders' metrics, behind only the Seahawks, Eagles and Vikings -- and they were No. 1 against the pass. So there's your silver lining, Chiefs' fans.
By the way, when Big Ben gave way to backup Landry Jones midway through the fourth quarter, he had completed 22 of 27 passes for 300 yards and five (!) touchdowns.
#Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 4 or more TDs in the 1st half of a game for the 3rd time in his career: 10/26/14: 4 & 11/5/07: 5— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) October 3, 2016
2. Le'Veon Bell helps the passing game as much as the running game
Even with all their offensive weapons, the Steelers missed Le'Veon Bell during the first three games. He returned from suspension on Sunday and looked every bit the part of the NFL's best back, both carrying the ball and catching passes. Of course, 33-year-old DeAngelo Williams has been so good that he was the Steelers' lone back on the first two series, while Bell lined up at wide receiver. That's a wonderful luxury to have if you're offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who took full advantage of his new (old) toy.
And perhaps in a fitting bit of symmetry, and long after the game had been decided, Bell slashed through the Chiefs' defense for a 44-yard gain, and two plays later, Williams waltzed into the end zone to give the Steelers a 43-7 lead.
It's almost impossible to fathom what this already-ridiculous offense would look like if Martavis Bryant wasn't suspended for the 2016 season. That said, Bryant's off-field issues were why the Steelers drafted Sammie Coates in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Big Ben's first completion on Sunday went for 48 yards to Coates -- his fifth catch of 40-plus yards in four games.
3. The Steelers' defense finally decided to blitz
After three weeks of watching the Steelers rush three and four players -- and managing just one sack in those games -- defensive coordinator Kevin Butler cut the dogs loose against the Chiefs. It was an interesting decision because Andy Reid's offense is a lot like Doug Pederson's in that the idea is to get the ball out of the quarterback's hand as quickly as possible. More than that, both offenses are adept at screens, which the Eagles made abundantly clear last Sunday.
By the time it was over, Smith had been sacked four times, hurried and hit on countless other occasions, and the Chiefs had two costly first-half turnovers that resulted directly and immediately in Steelers' points. (There was a stretch where Roethlisberger had tossed three touchdowns on three consecutive completions.) That vaunted screen game? Never a factor.
For fans wondering what happened to the Butler's aggressive scheme from a season ago, they saw it in all its glory on Sunday.
4. We need some resolution on Brown's TD celebrations
It happened again. Antonio Brown scored, Antonio Brown celebrated, Antonio Brown was promptly flagged. It only seems right to set the latest transgression to music.
We can't believe we're about to say this, but this celebration was a tamer version of Brown's gyratin' after scoring in the Week 1 matchup against the Redskins. He was also flagged, and subsequently fined for his "sexually suggestive" touchdown dance.
Here's the Very Official Explanation, courtesy of the rulebook:
I actually ran across this passage in the NFL bylaws today. Specifically bans "sexually suggestive" celebrations. pic.twitter.com/lbMGZzwpmM— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 13, 2016
Wait a second, two pumps is perfectly legal -- it's only three or more pumps that will earn you a flag! This is an obvious conspiracy.
That was 2 1/2 pumps! Throw the flag, Tomlin!— Chris Bradford (@BCTBradford) October 3, 2016
5. The Steelers honored Arnold Palmer
A moment of silence for the late Arnold Palmer. pic.twitter.com/xSJR7UZ6gN— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 3, 2016
And Brown wore these shoes to pay tribute to the Latrobe native, and the man who had everything to do with making golf the sport it is today:
6. B.J. Finney has a great story
Finney, an undrafted free agent out of Kansas State, made his first NFL start against the Chiefs and was among the Steelers' best offensive linemen, according to Pro Football Focus. It's an understatement to say that when he signed with the team in May 2015, it was an emotional moment, especially since his family had long been Steelers fans.
7. Just focus on this, Chiefs fans
Hopefully, this takes your mind off an otherwise forgettable evening:
8. Next up
The Chiefs have a bye week and then travel to Oakland to face the white-hot Derek Carr and the Raiders. The Steelers, meanwhile, host the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick, he of nine interceptions in the last eight quarters.