Steelers honor Drake, keep Chiefs in check
The shirts read “shut out the noise.” Shutting out the pain of suddenly losing the man behind the mantra will take far longer for the Steelers.
Still, there was something about the game-day routine that brought a sense of relief and normalcy just six days removed from the death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake.
The receivers walked out to pregame warmups wearing gear with “shut out the noise” emblazoned on them, the phrase Drake adopted for his group heading into the 2019 season.
The Steelers took the field with “DD” stickers on their helmets, stickers that will remain there all season. Players gathered on the sideline to kneel in prayer. A moment of silence was held just before the national anthem.
Then the ball was kicked off and Pittsburgh went back to work, keeping Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in check in a 17-7 victory late Saturday night.
“It’s just been a very difficult week,” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who attended Drake’s funeral in Tennessee along with general manager Kevin Colbert early Saturday before returning in time to lead his team to its second preseason victory in as many weeks. “If anything the game is kind of a break from that. You get lost in the things that you need to do.”
What the Steelers (2-0) need to do over the next two weeks is figure out who will be the backup to starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. So far, Tomlin has seen little separation between Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph.
Rudolph guided a long first-half touchdown drive and finished 10 of 15 for 77 yards while Dobbs completed 6 of 11 for 95 yards with a red-zone interception on a night the Steelers (2-0) opted to sideline several key starters: Roethlisberger, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey and rookie Devin Bush.
Asked if Rudolph, is ahead of Dobbs, Tomlin shook his head.
“Not as we sit here right now,” Tomlin said.
Not that any of it matters when Week 1 rolls around. Roethlisberger is firmly entrenched as the starter for 15 years and counting. The same is true in Kansas City, where Mahomes is coming off an MVP season.
Unlike Roethlisberger, Mahomes hasn’t yet earned the right to take most of the preseason off. The third-year pro completed just 2 of 5 passes for 11 yards in two series, a far cry from his previous visit to Heinz Field, when he threw for six touchdowns in a Week 2 win last September that served as a harbinger of the season to come.
“Yeah, that’ll all get worked out,” Reid said when asked about Mahomes’ performance. “Everyone can’t be perfect.”
Steelers: Expect to give Roethlisberger his only reps of the preseason next Sunday at Tennessee.
Chiefs: Host San Francisco next Saturday.