In what most view as the "final tune-up" until the beginning of the regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs will play the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight at Heinz Field in the third preseason game. This is the game where the starters in all phases get the most playing time before heading into September when the games start to count. The Chiefs are winless to this point in the preseason and tonight they have a clear mission: to just go out, execute, and get ready for Jacksonville in Week 1.
"I want to start 1-0," said QB Alex Smith. "Whatever is called, we have to go execute. That's our mindsets as players. Go out there and make it work. I think still all of our vision and direction is at Jacksonville, ultimately. We are game-planning this game. We're treating it like a dress rehearsal, because it's our first time together collectively."
There's no question the Chiefs would love to win this game and get a taste of victory before the season starts, but if they can make plays and execute the way they want to tonight, they will take it. But getting in the winning mode early doesn't hurt either. Head coach Andy Reid does not plan to reveal much as far as the playbook and is keeping his tricks in the bag until the season.
"We will be as simple as we can, but still work our execution," Reid said. "It's a long season. I don't think anybody in the league goes out and shows everything that they've got. That's not something they do, but at the same time you want to make sure you execute. I'm sure Pittsburgh feels the same way, and we feel the same way. We're going to attempt to do that."
Guys like Derrick Johnson have played against Pittsburgh a number of times in his career and expects nothing less than a physical battle.
"They're a good, physical team. They've been that way traditionally and they won't be anything different when we play them tonight."
Tonight will be a good test for the Chiefs, going up against one of the more consistent teams in this league. In fact, their entire preseason schedule has been a good test. Facing Drew Brees and his offense, the Super Bowl runner-ups, and then close with the Green Bay Packers. It will no question challenge how far this team has come this offseason and if they will be legitimate contenders this year. But tonight is another step.
The Chiefs will also go up against an old friend in former head coach Todd Haley, the Steelers' offensive coordinator. Haley served as Chiefs coach for two and a half seasons, leading them to a division title in 2010. After struggling to stay consistent and not seeing eye to eye with then General Manager Scott Pioli, Haley was fired mid-season in 2011. These two teams did meet last season on Monday Night Football when the Steelers won an overtime battle by a score of 13-10.
RB Jamaal Charles plans on strapping up and playing tonight which is great news for all Chiefs fans. The Chiefs no doubt felt his absence last week when they struggled offensively, granted against of the league's best defenses. But he says he's ready to play and unless something unforeseen happens, #25 will be running the rock tonight. Coach Reid didn't say how long he plans on playing the starters, but he will make those decisions as the game goes on.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30EST, 6:30CDT.
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