The Pittsburgh Steelers step on to the Heinz Field turf in just a few moments with the possibility of finishing the day clinching a postseason berth for the first time in three years. They have already secured a winning record after finishing 8-8 in each of the past two seasons, but this is a team driven to do more.
Pittsburgh plays host to the Kansas City Chiefs, and will do so without some key players, such as Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu in the secondary, and Matt Spaeth on offense, whose blocking has been a catalyst for some of the team’s best rushing displays of the season.
The Steelers won the toss and chose to receiver, but Markus Wheaton had little room for a return and was tackled at the 15. On first down, they opened with the counter power run, but no hole developed, and Le’Veon Bell had to deviate inside for a one-yard gain. In the no huddle, Ben Roethlisberger went underneath to Heath Miller for a short gain. On third and four, he went over the top deep to Martavis Bryant, who beat his man for a big gain down to the Chiefs 35 for 43 yards. Bryant took the ball on an end around for about 10 yards on the following play.
Antonio Brown caught his first pass on a quick throw for four yards on a glorified running play. On second and six, Bell broke through for about seven yards for a first down inside the red zone. Brown took another quick pass for seven yards. On second and three now, Bell was stopped after a two-yard gain. Roethlisberger was incomplete to Brown, and the Steelers had to settle for a field goal.
James Harrison opened the game as the starter. Jamaal Charles gained a first down on the first play, while De’Anthony Thomas picked up nine through the air for nine yards. From near midfield, Harrison and Cameron Heyward were able to sack Alex Smith. On second and 16, he was chased out of the pocket and forced to throw it away. On third and long, Smith did complete the long conversion to Albert Wilson.
William Gay was able to trip up Charles in open space to hold him to seven yards. Wilson picked up the first down on the next play. Knile Davis was stopped for one yard by Sean Spence. On second and nine, Thomas found room up the sideline on the screen to set up first and goal.
On the first goal to go play, Lawrence Timmons stoppe Charles for no gain. Under pressure, Smith threw incomplete out of the back of the end zone. On third and goal, Heyward got in the backfield again to extend his sack lead to six, or 6.5, depending on how the first sack ends up being credited. It forced the Chiefs to settle for a game-tying field goal.
After looking deep to Bryant on first down, Bell went around right tackle, but was wrapped up for no gain. On third and 15, after a false start, Roethlisberger was hit on the arm as he threw for an incompletion. The Chiefs began near midfield on their next drive after the punt.
Smith found Wilson open in the middle of the field for a sizable gain close to field goal range on the first play. After offsetting penalties, Charles gained two yards up the left side. Dwayne Bowe came up with the first down catch on third down. The Chiefs ran a fake field goal, however, and the tight end got the first down to set up first and goal. After a pass break up by Antwon Blake and a sack from Jason Worilds, the Chiefs finally had to settle for a field goal.
On first down, Brown took a short pass and made one tackler miss for a first down. Roethlisberger crossed midfield with a completion to Miller on the following play. However, they quickly found themselves facing third and seven, showing three receivers, and Roethlisberger found Markus Wheaton.
Bell was able to take short flip pass nine yards, spinning out of a tackle, down to the 23. On second and one, he was able to convert on the ground. On the run/pass option, Roethlisberger went over the top to Miller for a first down to set up first and goal.
From the six-yard line, Roethlisberger rolled out slightly and shoveled a pass to Miller down to the one. On second and goal, Miller could not hang on to a Roethlisberger pass in the back of the end zone. On third and goal from the one, the Chiefs were called for defensive holding. From the half-yard line, Bell punched it in for his eighth rushing touchdown of the season, and seventh in the last five games.
Ross Ventrone nearly made the tackle on the ensuing kickoff inside the 10-yard line. Gay missed an open field tackle on Wilson to allow a big gain down to the 32. A quick hit to Bowe reached the 20-yard line. Harrison, however, bottled up the running back for a loss of six after the two minute warning. On second and 16, Thomas picked up about 11. Mike Mitchell made the tackle right at the first-down marker based on the spot. After a booth review, it was ruled that he was short. The Chiefs went for it and failed and the half ended.