Kick coverage continues to burn Steelers
By John Harris, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, November 23, 2009
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KANSAS CITY — So much for taking the high road.
Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, after seeing the special teams allow yet another kickoff returned for a touchdown in Sunday's 27-24 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, finally said what has been on the minds of his teammates and coaches for much of this season.
"That shouldn't happen," Ward said.
Opponents have returned four kickoffs for touchdowns against the Steelers this season, including touchdown returns in each of the past two games.
When Jamaal Charles returned yesterday's opening kickoff for a 97-yard score, it was the first kickoff returned all the way by a Kansas City player since Dante Hall did it against Philadelphia on October 2, 2005.
For the Steelers, it was simply business as usual.
"Giving up four special-teams touchdowns in one season, 10 games? I don't know. I know if I were playing special teams I would do something about that," Ward said. "That's never happened in the 12 years I've been here to give up this many touchdowns on special teams."
Special-teams co-captain Keyaron Fox was short on potential solutions to fix the kickoff-return team.
"After you get (four) returns run back on you, it's not a fluke anymore — it's a problem. We've failed to fix that problem so far," Fox said. "We've put our team in some bad situations when at the start of the game we give them momentum like that. We never, really fully recovered from that."
Unlike some of the other kickoffs returned for touchdowns this season, several Steelers player had a legitimate chance to tackle Charles but failed to take him down.
Once in the open field, Charles pulled away from his remaining pursuit for an easy score.
"I can't say it's a scheme problem. We had two guys get to him, I think they got their hands on him. We missed some tackles," Fox said.
When asked how to fix the problem, Fox was left searching for answers.
"I don't know," he said. "This is my first time ever having to deal with consistent runbacks like this. Usually, you just give more effort and get more practice in, which we did. Still having the same problems."