By Teresa Varley
The Chiefs stunned the Steelers, pulling off a 27-24 upset victory in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
The game started off ominously for the Steelers when the opening kickoff was returned 97 yards for a touchdown. And while the Steelers fought back, in the end they weren't able to hold off the 3-7 Chiefs.
Ben Roethlisberger completed 32 of 42 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns, but threw two interceptions before being knocked out of the game in overtime after taking a knee to the head and suffering a "concussion-oriented" injury.
"I take responsibility for that performance," said Coach Mike Tomlin after the game. "I have to have this football team better prepared to play. Ultimately we have to play better than what we played in that stadium. We are capable of much more than that. You have to tip your hat to the Chiefs because they played well enough to win. But that's not what we're capable of. That's not us, and it won't be us, but it was us today.
"As a guy that stands out front, I accept responsibility for that. We were highly penalized, we turned the ball over in the red area, we gave up big plays, we gave up a kick return. When you do those things, regardless of time of passion, yards, whatever, you open yourself up to defeat and that's what happened in that football game."
The game started off in the worst possible way for the Steelers when Jamaal Charles took the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown, the fourth kickoff return for a touchdown allowed this season.
With a 7-0 lead the Chiefs defense came out fired up, stopping Rashard Mendenhall after just a two-yard gain and then holding Mike Wallace to just five yards on a reverse. On third down, Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Hines Ward, a pass that was almost picked off by the Chiefs.
Matt Cassel came out firing for the Chiefs, hitting Mike Cox for a 19-yard gain. But the defense wouldn't allow anything more. Nick Eason stopped Charles for no gain and two incomplete passes by Cassel forced a punt to the Steelers two-yard line.
Buried deep in their own territory the Steelers turned to Mendenhall to give them some breathing room. After a two-yard gain he burst up the middle for a 13-yard gain. Roethlisberger went right back to Mendenhall for a six-yard completion, but couldn't connect with Santonio Holmes on second down. On third-and-four Roethlisberger aired it out to Mike Wallace, who pulled in the 33-yard reception, but when he turned to get away from cornerback Brandon Flowers the ball was knocked loose and Flowers recovered at the Chiefs 41-yard line.
The Chiefs stayed on the ground on their ensuing drive, with Charles going off right end for eight yards. On second down Charles was stopped by Tyrone Carter after gaining just one-yard, and Ike Taylor hit Charles for no gain on third down.
Things started to click for the Steelers on their next drive. Roethlisberger hit Ward deep for a 33-yard gain to the Chiefs 47-yard line. Willie Parker went up the middle for two yards, and added a six-yard gain. On third-and-two Mewelde Moore burst through the line for a four-yard gain. Rookie David Johnson pulled in a five-yard reception, but on the next play the Steelers were backed up five yards for false start. Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for five yards, but that was negated by a holding call. On second-and-20 Parker pulled in an 11-yard reception and Ward added an eight-yard reception. One fourth-and-one the Steelers went for it, with Mendenhall rattling off a four-yard gain. Roethlisberger hit Ward again, who fumbled out of bounds after a four-yard gain. Parker added a two-yard carry, but on third down the Steelers weren't able to convert, brining on Jeff Reed for a 36-yard field goal to pull within 7-3.
The defense came up with another stop and then Roethlisberger and the offense caught fire. Mendenhall had a nine-yard reception, went off right tackle for 11 yards and added a two-yard carry. Ward pulled in an eight-yard reception and Miller came through with a huge 41-yard catch to the Chiefs 24-yard line. After a two-yard gain by Mendenhall it was back to Miller for a 16-yard reception to the six-yard line. Mendenhall was hit for a two-yard loss, but on the next play Roethlisberger found Ward all alone for an eight-yard touchdown and 10-7 lead.
Casey Hampton set the tone for the defense on the next drive when he was all over Cassel for a nine-yard sack. Charles got some of that back with a six-yard reception, but on third-and-13 Cassel couldn't connect with Mark Bradley, forcing another punt.
The Steelers continued to roll on their next drive. Roethlisberger hit Mendenhall for 13 yards and Wallace for 14 yards to the Chiefs 11-yard line. On second-and-nine from the 10-yard line, Roethlisberger did was he does best, eluding what should have been a sure sack, scrambled and kept his composure, finding Miller for a 10-yard touchdown and 17-7 halftime lead.
The Steelers defense came up with the big plays in the first half, but it was the Chiefs defense that would make an impact to start the second half when Andy Studebaker intercepted Roethlisberger and returned it two yards to the Chiefs 38-yard line.
Cassel made the turnover count. He hit Chris Chambers for 10 yards and went over the middle to Bradley for 22 yards to the 24-yard line. Cassel then found a wide open Leonard Pope for a 21-yard touchdown, pulling the Chiefs to within a field goal at 17-14.
After each team forced a three-and-out, the Steelers took over looking to regain control of the game. Roethlisberger hit Holmes on a slant pattern for 14 yards, but after the play Miller was hit for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Holmes pulled in a 12 yard reception and Ward added an 11 yard and 19 yard grab. Roethlisberger continued with the hot hand, hitting Holmes for 12 yards and Miller for 10 yards to the 10-yard line. But it would be the Chiefs that would come up with the big play in the end zone when Studebaker intercepted Roethlisberger for the second time, two yards deep in the end zone and returned it 94 yards to the Steelers eight-yard line, before he was tracked down by Mendenhall, saving a touchdown.
With their backs against the wall, the Steelers defense stepped up once again. LaMarr Woodley sacked Cassel for a four-yard loss and on third down James Harrison added a four-yard sack, keeping them out of the end zone. The Chiefs had to settle for a 27-yard Ryan Succop to tie the game at 17-17.
The Chiefs were able to stop the Steelers on their next drive, but it would be the Steelers defense that would come up with a big play. Lawrence Timmons sacked Cassel, forcing a fumble that Harrison recovered.
Taking over at the Chiefs 27-yard line Roethlisberger went to work completing a seven yard pass to Holmes. Mendenhall went up the middle for nine yards, and two plays later Roethlisberger found Mendenhall for an eight-yard touchdown to take a 24-17 lead.
It didn't take long for the Chiefs to come storming back. Facing third-and-nine from their own 10-yard line Cassel aired it out, hitting Lance Long for 30 yards. Cassel stuck with the deep game, finding an open Chambers for 47 yards to the 13 yard line. Cassel capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Chambers to tie the game at 24-24.
The Steelers took over at their own 29-yard line with Roethlisberger hitting Miller for seven yards, then adding a six-yard completion to the dependable tight end. Mendenhall went up the middle for three yards, and on second down Roethlisberger couldn't connect with Holmes. On third-and-seven Roethlisberger was sacked for the first time in the game, a costly 13-yard loss forcing a punt.
The defense forced the Chiefs to go three-and-out, giving Roethlisberger another chance with just 1:47 on the clock. Roethlisberger hit Ward for 13 yards. Miller pulled a five-yard reception, but Roethlisberger missed Ward, forcing third-and-five. Roethlisberger was sacked on the play, giving the Chiefs the ball back and eventually sending it into overtime after they couldn't go anywhere.
The Steelers got the ball to start overtime, with Mendenhall rattling off two seven yard carries and Roethlisberger hitting Ward for 17 yards. Roethlisberger scrambled on second down, was sacked for a yard loss, and took a knee to the head, knocking him out of the game. Charlie Batch came in for Roethlisberger, hitting Holmes for 17 yards on his first throw. After an incompletion, Mendenhall added an eight-yard carry, but Moore was knocked for a two-yard loss on a deep pitch, forcing a punt.
It would be the Chiefs that would come up big in overtime. Cassel hit Chambers for a 61 yard gain to the four-yard line, and Succop hit a 22-yard field goal to pull off the 27-24 upset.
Notes: Chris Kemoeatu suffered an MCL sprain in the game. According to Tomlin other injuries appear to be minor.