View Full Version : Bad start, worse finish for Steelers

11-24-2009, 02:36 AM
Bad start, worse finish for Steelers
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer, dlolley@observer-reporter.com

http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/loc ... iefs-gamer (http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/localsports/11-23-2009-Steelers-Chiefs-gamer)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - On a day in which anything that could go wrong, went wrong, the Steelers snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory.
Pittsburgh turned the ball over three times, set an NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown allowed on special teams or defensive returns, and lost, 27-24, in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

And this one went bad from the opening kickoff.

Long before Kansas City's Ryan Succop stepped onto the field to kick his game-winning 22-yard field goal in overtime, the Steelers' special teams had another meltdown.

This one came on the opening play of the game, as Jamal Charles zigged and zagged his way through the Pittsburgh coverage unit for the fourth kickoff return for a touchdown against the Steelers in five games. It also was the eighth consecutive game in which the Steelers have given up a touchdown on a kick or defensive return, a dubious NFL record.
"That was bad," said Steelers linebacker James Farrior. "It was tough getting put in that situation, but it's a 60-minute ballgame. We had to play the rest of the game and you can't let that kind of play affect how you play."

The Steelers (6-4) seemingly did, and blew an opportunity to draw even with Cincinnati in the AFC North. Cincinnati (7-3) was upset, 20-17, by Oakland.

While the kickoff-coverage unit made yet another mistake, it was hardly the only one for the Steelers.

Leading 17-7 with the football to open the second half, the Steelers had fought hard to regain the momentum.

But it was all gone in one play.

Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 398 yards before suffering a slight concussion and leaving in overtime, threw a pass on the third play of the second half that deflected off the hands of tight end Heath Miller and into the arms of linebacker Andy Studebaker at the Kansas City 36-yard line.

The Chiefs converted that turnover into a score, a 21-yard TD pass from Matt Cassel to tight end Leonard Pope.

"Not only do I not make the play, I hand the ball to the other team," Miller said.

Later in the quarter, the Steelers drove to the Kansas City 10. But Roethlisberger was hit as he tried to pass to Hines Ward in the back of the end zone and Studebaker again intercepted, this time two yards deep in the end zone.

Studebaker returned the interception to the Pittsburgh 8, but the Chiefs (3-7) could not get into the end zone and settled for a 27-yard field goal that tied the score at 17-17.

The Steelers caught a break on Kansas City's next possession as Cassel was sacked by linebacker Lawrence Timmons and fumbled. James Harrison recovered at the 27 and Roethlisberger threw his third TD pass, this one to Rashard Mendenhall, giving Pittsburgh a 24-17 lead.

But Cassel wasn't finished. On Kansas City's next possession, he connected with Lance Long for a 30-yard gain. Then, he threw 47 yards to Chris Chambers on the next play, setting up a two-yard TD pass to Charles made it 24-24 with 4:54 remaining.

"I've got to hand it to (Cassel), the kid's a fighter," said Chiefs coach Todd Haley. "It's nice to get a little reward against a team like that."

The Steelers won the coin toss in overtime, but Roethlisberger took a knee to the head from linebacker Derrick Johnson on a scramble and had to leave the game.

Charlie Batch replaced him and threw a 17-yard pass to Santonio Holmes to the Kansas City 43 and Mendenhall carried for an eight-yard gain on second-and-10. Mewelde Moore, however, was dropped for a three-yard loss on a third-down sweep, taking the Steelers out of any chance for a game-winning field goal.

"It was a good play," said Ward. "Santonio and I got our blocks, but we got stopped short."

That would prove critical as Cassel found Chambers - who has been with Kansas City for only two weeks after being released by San Diego - over the middle on third-and-five from the 35. Chambers broke free down the sideline for a 61-yard catch-and-run to the Pittsburgh 4, setting up Succop's game-winner.

"I'll take responsibility for that performance," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "We're capable of much more than that. You've got to tip your hat to the Chiefs because they played well enough to win. But that's not what we're capable of.

"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 possession or any of those things, you open yourself up to defeat."

Odds and end zones

Guard Chris Kemoeatu left with a knee ligament on the second play of the second half and did not return. He was replaced by rookie Ramon Foster. ... Roethlisberger's 300-yard game was his fourth of the season, tying Neil O'Donnell (1995) and Tommy Maddox (2003) for the most in a season in team history. ... Ward's 100-yard game was the 24th of his career, one behind John Stallworth for the most in team history.