STEELERS 13, CHIEFS 9
Steelers' record: 8-3
One year ago: 8-3
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 18-10
Whether they chose to watch or take a nap on Thanksgiving night, the Steelers eventually learned they got no help from the San Francisco 49ers in the pursuit of the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North. Their only recourse is to stack wins of their own, and the Chiefs would have to play without starters Matt Cassel at QB, Jamaal Charles at RB, and Eric Berry at SS. For their part, the Steelers were in decent health coming off their bye. Ben Roethlisberger was not expected to be impacted too much by a broken right thumb that was to be protected by a splint and a glove for the game. And the Steelers still remember what happened to them here in 2009. "The last thing you want is to look back and go, 'Man, if we'd only have gotten this one, if we'd only have gotten that one,'" said Chris Hoke.
After the Chiefs cobbled together enough yards for a field goal on their opening possession to take a 3-0 lead, the Steelers offense took the ball and immediately started marching down the field for an answering score. But when Mewelde Moore lost a fumble that was recovered for a touchback, the Chiefs began to believe they could make it a ballgame. And they did.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The Steelers defense recorded three interceptions in a game for the first time since the 2010 regular season finale against the Browns in Cleveland. The Steelers now have six takeaways in the last two games; they had four takeaways in the first nine games of this season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* In 2009, Jamaal Charles returned Jeff Reed's opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. This time, Shaun Suisham's opening kickoff went for a touchback.
- On back-to-back-to-back possessions in the first half, the Steelers defense posted takeaways – one fumble recovery and two interceptions – to give the unit six over the previous nine quarters. Brett Keisel recovered a fumbled snap on a third down play near midfield; on the first play of the Chiefs next possession Ike Taylor intercepted a badly underthrown ball by Tyler Palko; and on the first play of the next possession Ryan Mundy intercepted Palko. The Steelers cashed in the three takeaways for 10 points.
- The Steelers were 0-for-2 in the red zone when they had a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line early in the second quarter. Buying time in the pocket, Ben Roethlisberger found rookie Weslye Saunders, who then made a nice catch along the back of the end zone. It was Sunders' first career touchdown, and it gave the Steelers a 10-3 lead.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* The Chiefs crossed up the Steelers defense on the game's opening series a bit by utilizing a good bit of no-huddle. Even though the drive resulted in a 41-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, the more damaging result was the loss of Troy Polamalu. On a pass to tackle
Steve Maneri, who was an eligible receiver on the play, Polamalu came up and made the tackle for a 1-yard loss but in the process he sustained a blow to the head.
- Making critical mistakes at critical times is what cost the Steelers here in 2009, and they committed another one of those in the first quarter last Sunday night. On a second-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Mewelde Moore had the ball stripped loose by Tamba Hali and Javier Arenas recovered in the end zone for a touchback. On the play before the fumble, Mike Wallace dropped a pass in the end zone.
- Rashard Mendenhall had a 21-yard run down to the Chiefs 3-yard line nullified by a holding penalty on Heath Miller. After the penalty yardage was marked off to the Kansas City 34-yard line, here is how the next three plays went: Antonio Brown gained 2 yards on an end-around; Ben Roethlisberger was sacked by Amon Gordon for an 11-yard loss; and then Roethlisberger's pass for Emmanuel Sanders was tipped by Javier Arenas and almost intercepted by Kendrick Lewis.
- By the end of the first half, the Steelers were 1-for-3 in the red zone. They settled for a 21-yard field goal and lost a fumble on their two unsuccessful trips, and so what could have been a 21-6 halftime lead was only 13-6.
- The Steelers defense apparently made a stop to get off the field when Lawrence Timmons dumped Javier Arenas for no gain after he took a direct snap on an attempted wildcat on a third-and-1. The Steelers then deployed their punt return team instead of leaving their defense on the field, and this time the direct snap to Arenas, who was lined up as the personal protector, gained 5 yards and a first down.