Saving their best for last

A look at Steelers 18, Chiefs 16 via the magic of the DVR:


THIRD-AND-THE-GAME:** The Steelers' 7-for-15 performance converting third downs was uneven overall but, in the end, everything they needed when they needed it the most.

They put the game away by converting a third-and-3 from the Steelers' 12-yard line on the first play after the two-minute warning.

An incompletion would have stopped the clock prior to a punt.

A turnover would have been an absolute disaster, as would a sack.

But the Steelers choose not to live in their fears.

"We play to win," head coach Mike Tomlin said of the decision-making process at that juncture. "We're throwing."

The pass was flawlessly executed.

 Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger accepted a shotgun snap and took a three-step drop.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown broke across the field out of a bunch-left and cut between wide receiver Eli Rogers and tight end Jesse James.

The Chiefs rushed four but Roethlisberger exited the pocket to his right before any pressure could be generated.

Brown worked his way behind linebacker Ramik Wilson and then ran laterally along the 20 and beat linebacker Justin Houston to the right sideline.

Roethlisberger threw on the run and hit Brown three steps before Brown went out of bounds.


"How much courage did (offensive coordinator) Todd Haley, the play-caller, have?" asked NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth. "A ton.

"Fired by the Kansas City Chiefs as their head coach, how sweet is this one for him?"

THIRD-DOWN BREAKDOWNS: The timing and execution on their final third-down conversion of the night had too often eluded the Steelers when they had a chance to make significant dents in the scoreboard.

Of the eight third-down attempts the Steelers didn't convert, one involved running back Le'Veon Bell getting stuffed on third-and-1 from the Steelers' 11, and one was a kneel-down by Roethlisberger on the final play of the game.

The other six were from the Kansas City 27 or closer and any one of them could have made for a less-frenetic ending to the game had the Steelers been better or had the Chiefs not been quite as determined defensively:  

Third-and-2, KC 5 (first quarter) _ Safety Ron Parker was on the goal line when Roethlisberger released a short pass for Rogers in the left flat. But by the time Rogers caught the ball and got his body turned back upfield, Parker was there. Rogers had no chance to make a move before he got drilled at the 4 and driven back to the 8.

Third-and-7, KC 20 (first quarter) _ The Chiefs rushed three against a seven-man protection that included Bell and James. Roethlisberger eventually threw for Brown at the left sideline at the KC 9. Brown jumped and reached for the high, hard throw but the ball went through his hands.  

Third-and-11, KC 18 (second quarter) _ Roethlisberger took a three-step drop, stepped up and looked for Bell in the left flat. But Bell was well covered by Wilson, who got away with a quick two-handed grab of Bell's left arm, and the pass fell incomplete.

Third-and-12, KC 27 (second quarter) _ Roethlisberger tried Rogers over the middle working against nickel cornerback Steven Nelson, but the pass got tipped at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Chris Jones and fluttered behind Nelson and Rogers, who got tangled up and hit the deck at the KC 12.

Third-and-9, KC 24 (third quarter) _ Roethlisberger initially looked at wide receiver Demarcus Ayers on a flanker-screen to the right and then threw back for Bell at the left numbers. The Steelers had left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, left guard Ramon Foster and center Maurkice Pouncey out to escort Bell. But Wilson ran around Pouncey's attempted block and dropped Bell for a loss of 1.

Third-and-8, KC 19 (fourth quarter) _ Roethlisberger tried to step up after not finding anything to his liking after taking a shotgun snap and a three-step drop. But when he pulled the ball down in a collapsing pocket the pressure finally got to him form both edges. Outside linebacker Dee Ford and defensive end Jarvis Jenkins dropped Roethlisberger for a loss of 6.

MISPLAYED SQUIB: The timing was way off on the Steelers' first kickoff.

The far right side of the formation was unaware the play was starting as kicker Chris Boswell's foot hit the ball. Cornerback Artie Burns was looking straight ahead but not moving. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and fullback Roosevelt Nix had their backs to Boswell and were moving toward the sideline to line up inside of Burns. And linebacker Arthur Moats was taking his first step off the 30-yard line.

Tight end Demetrius Harris fielded Boswell's squib kick at the Kansas City 20 and didn't have to make a move on an unblocked defender until he approached the Kansas City 40. Heyward-Bey eventually made first contact at the 43 and Nix helped finish Harris off at the 45.

Nix got up and walked toward the Steelers' sideline with his arms out and his palms turned up, the universal gesture for "what just happened?"

HE SAID IT:  "One of the things that you have to do if you're going to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers is try to get outside of them. Forever this defense has been predicated upon the idea that those outside linebackers are going to set that hard edge, they're going to keep everything in between." _ Collinsworth on the Steelers.

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