Missed third down in OT was costly

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By Mike Prisuta
Steelers.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ An afternoon that saw the Steelers amass 515 yards of offense came down to 2 they ultimately couldn't gain in what became a 27-24 overtime loss to the Chiefs.

The Steelers had surrendered leads of 17-7 and 24-17 but won the coin toss at the outset of overtime and were on the move in the extra session.

Three first downs had helped advance the ball from the Steelers' 20-yard line to the Chiefs' 35-yard line, where the Steelers faced third-and-2. With Charlie Batch prepared to take his fourth snap in relief of Ben Roethlisberger - the Steelers' starting quarterback had exited after succumbing to a "concussion-oriented thing," as described by Coach Mike Tomlin immediately after the game - offensive coordinator Bruce Arians opted for a toss-sweep to running back Mewelde Moore.

The play lost 3 yards, the Steelers punted and the Chiefs saw to it that the game ended on their subsequent possession.

"We were at the outer edge of field goal range, about the 36-yard line," Tomlin said. "We were only comfortable roughly from the 33 to the 35. We tried to get a perimeter run to get down within that range. We got dropped for a loss."

The Steelers had been 4-for-12 on third-down conversions to that point.

Previous third-and-short situations had resulted in Moore gaining 4 yards up the middle on a third-and-2 from the Kansas City 39-yard line in the first quarter, running back Rashard Mendenhall being stopped for no gain up the middle on third-and-1 from the Steelers 29-yard line in the third quarter, and Mendenhall gaining 9 yards up the middle on third-and-1 from the Chiefs 18-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Mendenhall had also converted a fourth-and-1 from the Chiefs 26-yard line with a 4-yard gain off left tackle in the first quarter.

Batch was 1-for-2 passing at that point, having hit wide receiver Santonio Holmes for 17 and then missed Mendenhall in the flat on consecutive snaps after entering the game. Also, Roethlisberger had been sacked on his previous two third-down attempts in the fourth quarter.

And so, the Steelers decided to try to out-flank the Chiefs in overtime.

They lined up with wide receiver Mike Wallace on the left side of the formation, with Holmes in the right slot and wide receiver Hines Ward lined up wide right, with tight end Heath Miller in the backfield in a "Broken I" behind Batch and in front of Mendenhall to the running back's right. Ward motioned toward the formation and inside of Holmes prior to the snap.

"I cracked down on the (defensive) end and 'Tone (Holmes) got the linebacker," Ward said. "Usually, we get the play when 'Tone and I get that.

"That's a critical play. B.A. called it; we gotta execute it. Any time B.A. calls plays we gotta execute the play. On third-and-3 or third-and-2 I like our chances with a running back. We didn't execute the play."

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