The Pittsburgh Steelers came up a bit short in a Saturday night 26-20 OT loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. While the loss dropped the Steelers to an ugly 0-3 preseason record, it wasn’t all gloom and doom on the Steelers sideline.
Ben Roethlisberger returned to what he does best — squeezing out of danger and finding receivers on the run. Roethlisberger ran the Steelers offense for the first half, completing 13 of 19 passes for 166 yards and one touchdown. Gone was the run-first, dump-pass offense of the past two preseason weeks as Roethlisberger’s first shot was a 49-yard grab by Antonio Brown.
Tackle Mike Adams continued his preseason struggles but at least this time it was against all-pro pass rusher Tamba Hali. Roethlisberger managed to stay a step ahead and improved on third-down conversions, going 3 of 7. One of those completions was a 13-yard TD screen pass to Jonathan Dwyer for the first preseason TD by the first-team offense.
The first-team defense and special teams unit lent a hand to the struggling offense, lining them up with great field position. Roethlisberger and company gladly accepted the cheap scoring opportunities and led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
With the Steelers’ emphasis switching from pass to run, Dwyer and newcomer Felix Jones had just eight attempts each for 25 and 28 yards, respectively. Isaac Redman, Le’Veon Bell, and LaRod Stepehens-Howling remained sidelined with injuries.
Pro Bowl middle linebacker Lawrence Timmons and defensive linemen Ziggy Hood, Brett Keisel and Steve McClendon kept the Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles in neutral, allowing him just 10 yards on seven carries. But the running of quarterbacks Alex Smith and backup Chase Daniels kept Kansas City alive. They scrambled for 83 yards and at least five first-down conversions.
Steelers penalties and another gaffe on special teams continued to be a nuisance. The Steelers were flagged nine times for 98 yards. A few of the violators may get a break as several of the penalties were, as Mike Tomlin stated in the post-game presser, “suspect…preseason is for those guys [refs] as well.”
Troy Polamalu, however, won’t be getting a break for a costly hit to the helmet on QB Chase Daniels. The youth-infused third quarter special teams unit regrettably gave up a 109-yard kick-off return to KC running back Knile Davis.
Down 20-17 with under two minutes to go, new Chiefs head coach Andy Reid elected to keep the game alive, sending the field goal unit out for a 38-yard kick. Six minutes into overtime, Daniels found rookie Rico Richardson behind Steelers safety Robert Golden for the game-winning TD.
The Steelers will head to Carolina this Thursday for the final preseason game. Roster cuts begin Tuesday as all teams must be down to 75 players by 4 p.m.
NOTES: Rookie OLB Jarvis Jones left the game with a chest injury and was later taken to a Pittsburgh hospital. It appeared the injury happened after Jones intercepted a pass. The interception was later called back due to a pass interference penalty on Josh Victorian.