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The Steelers improved to 10-5 and can win the AFC North with a win against the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday at Heinz Field. The defense played without injured veterans Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor in the secondary, but the pass rush harassed Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith all day. Jason Worilds had two sacks, and Cam Heyward and James Harrison added 1.5 each. Rookie Stephon Tuitt had one and forced a fumble.
Each team came up with a long drive on its opening possession, as the Steelers took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards to the 5 in 11 plays and 5:45. But a third-and-two pass by Ben Roethlisberger was wide, and Antonio Brown couldn't handle it. Shaun Suisham had to kick a 23-yard field goal to give the Steelers the lead.
Rookie Martavis Bryant had two touches during the drive, a 44-yard pass from Roethlisberger on third-and-four and nine-yard run on a reverse. Le'Veon Bell had four carries for 13 yards, including a seven-yard run for a first down.
The Chiefs countered with a 14-play, 65-yard drive in 7:09. Two sacks by Heyward, shared with a half by Harrison, kept the possession from being a complete success. But Smith hit rookie Albert Wilson for 19 yards on third-and-16 and also found rookie De'Anthony Thomas for 19 for a first down at the 8. Heyward's second sack halted the drive and forced a 35-yard field goal by rookie Cairo Santos.
A horrible punt by Brad Wing for just 34 yards gave Kansas City great field position near midfield, and Smith led a 44-yard drive in 12 plays and 6:10. A 13-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe on third-and-eight got the Chiefs into the red zone, but the Steelers appeared to force a field goal again. However, punter Dustin Colquitt faked the 30-yard attempt and shoveled a pass to tight end Travis Kelce, and Will Gay couldn't stop him before he made it first-and-goal at the 6. On third down, Harrison and Worilds chased Smith out of bounds for a sack, and Santos had to kick a 25-yard field goal.
Roethlisberger remained in gunslinger mode later in the quarter, as he guided the Steelers on an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive in 5:07. This time, the Steelers did not settle for a field goal. A 17-yard pass to Brown and 15-yarder to Heath Miller got things started. Roethlisberger also hit Markus Wheaton for 13 yards on third-and-seven, and a 14-yarder to Miller made it first-and-goal at the 6. Miller caught the next pass as well to get to the 1, but he dropped a touchdown toss after that.
Fortunately for the Steelers, a defensive holding penalty made it first-and-goal gain, and Bell plowed in behind David DeCastro and extra lineman Mike Adams. That score gave the Steelers a 10-6 lead with 4:18 remaining until halftime.
Unfortunately, that was enough time for the Chiefs to drive from their 16-yard line into the red zone. Smith connected with Bowe for 12 and 11 yards and Wilson for 33. Another Harrison sack keyed a defensive surge, but Smith found Thomas for 12 yards to make it third-and-four. A pass to Bowe was marked for a first down on a stretch by the receiver, but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin correctly challenged the spot.
It was a yard short, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid went for it. But a host of Steelers, led by Lawrence Timmons, stuffed Jamaal Charles for no gain. Roethlisberger took a knee, and the Steelers took a 10-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After trading opening possessions in the second half, the Chiefs appeared to be poised for a score after a couple big passes. A 13-yarder to Travis Kelce was the key play on third-and-four. Kelce appeared to bobble and then drop the pass, and the Steelers challenged. But it was not overturned. Two plays later, Smith found Charles for three, but a big hit by Tuitt dislodged the ball. Vince Williams recovered, and the Steelers were back on offense.
Roethlisberger didn't waste any time going 75 yards on 10 plays and 5:50 with a short touchdown pass to Brown, but he was hit after releasing the pass and taken to the locker room. He suffered a right knee injury, but came back to the sideline and short time later and appeared to be all right.
Roethlisberger had a 14-yard pass play to Markus Wheaton, 17-yarder to Miller and 19-yarder to Brown to get into the red zone. Bell ran for a first down to the 14 and another one to the 3. The Brown touchdown came one play later.
The Steelers stopped the Chiefs on the ensuing possession, but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Gay for taunting kept the drive alive. Replays showed that Gay actually was talking with a teammate and no Chiefs player was in the area, but in Roger Goodell's NFL anything is possible. The Steelers defense survived 12 plays in 5:16 and forced a 43-yard field goal that Santos made with 10:18 remaining. And the Steelers still led, 17-9.
Roethlisberger came out for the next possession and ran Bell twice for six yards. On third-and-four, Roethlisberger hit Brown on a crossing pattern for 14 yards and a first down at the 45. Bell ran for seven yards, and on a free play due to an offsides penalty Roethlisberger threw downfield to Brown. He was interfered with, so the Steelers had a first down at the 24. On third-and-seven, Roethlisberger found Miller open again for 10 yards to the 11.
The drive stalled inside the 10, as Roethlisberger's pass to Miller went for three yards on third-and-seven. So, Suisham kicked a 23-yard field goal to seal the win. The Chiefs added a field goal with 1:37 remaining, but the onside kick was recovered by Will Johnson to end any hope of their comeback.