While the Steelers have certainly blown some opportunities–losing the ball on a free kick, failing to get into the end zone from first and goal at the two–they probably feel good about leading the Chiefs 12-3 entering the second half.
The last undefeated team just barely got its only first down of the game after the two-minute warning and subsequently took two sacks to end the second quarter. Meanwhile, the run game has spent most of the day looking dominant, and Ben Roethlisberger has made some nice throws as well, throwing an interception that was on Antonio Brown for stopping a slant route.
Kareem Hunt picked up five yards on his first play of the second half. He was able to get four in front of some good blocking to set up an early third and one. Alex Smith kept it on the sneak up the middle, ruled short. From the 34 and a half, Andy Reid elected to punt. Brown returned the ball to about the 19. A flag was thrown on the play on the Chiefs for illegal formation, resulting in a rekick. The rekick didn’t do any good, forcing Brown to back up to about the 17 to call for a fair catch on the backpedal.
Le’Veon Bell’s first carry of the half went for 15 off the left side, making a tackler or two miss. He was lucky to get back to the line of scrimmage. Ben Roethlisberger dropped back and looked for Martavis Bryant, incomplete, on an intermediate pass that was high and well-defended. Now third and 10 from the 32, Roethlisberger threw to Bell, but he failed to pick up the first down, stopped just shy after trying to get too cute when he should have just turned upfield. After a delay of game in advance of the punt, Jordan Berry booted the ball down to the 25 for just a 36-yard punt. Berry has continued to be maddeningly inconsistent, usually good for at least one JV punt per game.
From the 25, Smith found Tyreek Hill in the flat five yards out with a run for another five. Vince Williams chased Hunt down laterally for no gain on the following play. With Stephon Tuitt pressuring Smith, the quarterback got the pass out to Travis Kelce, who dropped it, Ryan Shazier there as well. On third and 10, Artie Burns prevented Hill from catching the ball for 15 yards, his second pass defensed. Forcing the punt, Brown muffed the punt after signaling for a fair catch near the 10 at the end of a 54-yard punt.
From the 11, Bell got the ball and showed his typical patience, leaning forward for close to five. Roethlisberger had time to find Brown down the field on the next play for a 30-yard hook-up, running a slant-and-go. That was his fifth catch of the day for 77 yards.
From the 45, this time it was JuJu Smith-Schuster for his third catch, bouncing off a defender for 12. It looked like the Chiefs had Bell dead to rights in the backfield, but he got free for 25 instead. The only problem is that they got B.J. Finney for a hold at the line.
Now first and 18, however, he was tripped up for a loss on the pitch. Going off play action, Roethlisberger rocketed one down the field for 19, but Brown came back two yards, instead making it third and two because of that. From the 35, Roethlisberger couldn’t float the ball over the linebacker to Bell in coverage. The punt went for a touchback, but because of a hold drawn by Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Chiefs were backed down to their own 10.
Hill wasn’t able to get past Shazier on first down, but he was able to get 10 yards. Travis Kelce finally got his first catch, but Mike Hilton completely blew it up on a screen for a loss of two. Unfortunately, Hunt was able to get by Williams in open space with a stiff-arm for first-down yardage.
From the 37, backups in the game on the line and at edge rusher, Smith was forced to scramble for a short gain. With Hilton on the blitz, Smith got off a quick pass and Sean Davis crushed DeAnthony Thomas for no gain. On third and long, Smith ducked under a Mike Mitchell blitz and hit Hunt into the open field for a big gain, plus roughing the passer, setting the Chiefs up in the red zone to open the fourth quarter.
At the 12 all of a sudden, Hunt powered his way for four on first down. Hunt taking the carry from motion picked up another three yards to set up a third and three. Williams stayed down on the field initially, but was getting up heading into the injury commercial break.
With Tyler Matakevich checking in for Williams on the big third-down play, Smith handed off to Hunt, who was held short. It initially looked like he would lose yardage, but he lunged for a gain of one. On fourth and two, the defense pressured Smith, but he got the pass off, nearly caught, and then nearly intercepted by Sean Davis.
The Steelers took over on downs at the four-yard line, preserving a two-possession lead. On first down, Bell got the carry for just a yard. On second down, following his fullback, he found space for extra yardage, a first down and more. With Finney and Nix pulling right, Bell ripped off a 27-yard run up the right side.
At the 44, they offense stayed on the ground, getting Bell four more. He was lucky to get back to the line of scrimmage, however, on the next play. On third and six, Roethlisberger in an empty set could not complete to Brown, forcing the Steelers to punt. Berry kicked 36 yards, the punt fielded by Hill and returned for two yards.
After two plays for a first down, a three-yard pass and a forced throwaway set up a third and seven, as William remained out for now. Smith scrambled for a first down, after the Steelers left their right side open, but Demetrius Harris, their fourth receiver playing as their number two, held. The spot foul made it third and six. From the 33, Smith was able to find Kelce for 10 with Davis in coverage, breaking to the outside.
With starters checking back in, Tuitt did a nice job of robbing Smith of a running lane, forcing him to throw the ball away again. But he bought time with his legs on the following play and suddenly broke the game open with DeAnthony Thomas getting open past Burns and getting out of a Hilton tackle attempt for the long touchdown, the Steelers’ first passing play of 40 or more yards allowed on the season. It’s suddenly a two-point game.
After a touchback, the Steelers turned to Bell to try to silence the crowd, suddenly with something to cheer for, and he picked up six yards on first down as the clock ticked below six minutes remaining. On second and four, Roethlisberger hit Brown for an easy completion to Brown of 10 yards, putting him over 100 for the day.
From the 41, Bell struggled to find space, ultimately turning north to pick up a yard. Backing his way forward for another six or seven yards, Bell put the Steelers into a manageable third and two, with the option to run or throw. Below four minutes to go, Bell checked out wide, Roethlisberger forcing the ball to Brown, off the facemask of Phillip Gaines. Off the tip, Brown snagged the ball out of the air, avoiding the safety in coverage, and ran the rest of the way for the touchdown for 51 yards, his second score of the season.
That was a turnover-worthy throw that turned into a touchdown and regained a two-possession lead with under three and a half minutes to play.
Off the short kick to the four, a 29-yard return put the Chiefs at the 33 to start the drive. Smith immediately found Hunt open down the field for a big gain to the 38. Then he hit Kelce between zones to the 15. Miscommunication with his third receiver resulted in a quick incomplete pass. Facing the blitz, Smith was forced to release the ball wildly for what should have been a touchdown, Artie Burns blowing coverage. Hilton on the pressure. On third down, Smith’s pass sailed incomplete, forcing the Chiefs to attempt a field goal, down by nine points. With 2:17 to play, the Chiefs cut the lead to six.
Taking over at the 24, the blocking was unable to get Bell out to the edge off failed blocks, resulting in a loss of two yards, the Chiefs taking a timeout 10 seconds in advance of the two-minute warning. On second and 12, with one receiver on the field, they stayed on the ground with Bell for about five yards, setting up a third and long, the Chiefs using their second timeout at 2:05. On third down, Roethlisberger’s pass looking for Bell was broken up on a nice play by the defensive back, just after the two-minute warning.
Berry outkicked his coverage and helped to allow Hill to return the punt out to the Chiefs’ 44-yard line. He took two hard hits by Nix and Matakevich out of bounds, taking a seat on the bench.
With 1:42 and two timeouts, the Chiefs got to work from the 44. Under pressure, Smith threw wildly and low short on first down for an incompletion. Off a three-man rush, Smith hit Robinson for 16 to the 40. Tuitt batted Smith’s next ball at the line at the 1:11 mark. On second down, from the 40, Smith’s pass was high for an open Robinson, Shazier vacating his spot. Harrison got a hit on Smith.
On third and 10, Harrison beat Eric Fisher for the sack, Tuitt joining him, forcing the Chiefs to call a timeoute with 58 seconds left for a fourth an 18. On the desperation play, Smith’s pass was not near a Chief, Shazier trying to go up and intercept it, ultimately falling incomplete. After being blown out last week, the Steelers went into Kansas City and knocked out the top offense in the league, holding them to 13 points and giving them their first loss.