PITTSBURGH (TNS) — After missing out the past two seasons, the Steelers clinched a playoff spot Sunday by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs, 20-12, at Heinz Field.
Le’Veon Bell ran for a 1-yard touchdown, Ben Roethlisberger threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown and Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals on a day that otherwise belonged to the Steelers’ defense.
That defense came up with a turnover and a fourth-down stop to prevent two likely scores by Kansas City, which managed only four field goals on the day.
The Steelers’ third straight win lifted them to 10-6 and at least a wildcard playoff spot. They will win the AFC North Division if they beat Cincinnati at Heinz Field next Sunday.
The Chiefs dropped to 8-7.
Cairo Santos kicked his third field goal, a 43-yarder with 10:18 left in the game after the Steelers seemingly had stopped them back at the 25 on a tackle by Lawrence Timmons. However, cornerback William Gay was called for taunting after the play when he folded his arms and looked at the Steelers’ sideline, even though no Chiefs’ player was anywhere in his sight.
Given new life, the Chiefs went on to close the gap to 17-9.
However, the Steelers then put together their own scoring drive that consisted of three third-down conversions. The drive sputtered at the KC five but Suisham came on to kick his second field goal, from 23 yards.
A personal foul penalty against guard Ramon Foster on that field goal ultimately led to the Chiefs starting the next drive at the 50. They moved to the five, where on fourth down coach Andy Reid opted for a field goal to cut the lead to eight points. Santos made it from 23 yards with 1:37 left in the game.
The Chiefs’ onside kick attempt went straight to Will Johnson, who cradled it at the KC 46 to seal the victory.
The Steelers defense thwarted one score and their offense added another touchdown in the third quarter to give them a 17-6 lead.
Roethlisberger threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Brown with 34 seconds left in the quarter. On the play, Chiefs defensive end Jaye Howard knocked Roethlisberger to the ground and the quarterback came up limping.
Roethlisberger limped into the locker room with Dr. James Bradley with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
The Chiefs moved toward another scoring opportunity midway through the third quarter with a second down at the Steelers’ 28. There, Alex Smith threw a short pass to Jamaal Charles on the right. Rookie Stephon Tuitt fired into him, forcing a fumble and linebacker Vince Williams recovered at the 25.
The Steelers led, 10-6, at halftime.
The Chiefs were poised to score late in the half with a third-and-four at the Steelers’ 15. A pass to De’Anthony Thomas on the right came up short after they reviewed the spot.
Instead of kicking the field goal, Kansas City went for the first down on fourth and inches. Charles ran off the left where he was met first by Timmons and then by Will Allen for no gain and the Steelers took over and ran out the remaining 20 seconds.
Kansas City had a 6-3 lead on Santos’ second field goal, from 25 yards, in the second quarter. The Chiefs successfully ran a fake field goal on a 30-yard try for a first down at the six, but Jason Worilds sacked Smith on third down.
The Steelers offense finally found the end zone on its following drive, completing an 80-yard drive when Le’Veon Bell ran a power sweep to the right for a one-yard touchdown and a 10-6 lead.
That opportunity developed when, on third down at the one, Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Martavis Bryant but safety Ron Parker was penalized for holding Bryant on the play.
Kansas City, which entered the game as the second-best offense scoring touchdowns inside the 20, went 0-for-3 in the first half in that red zone area.
The first quarter ended in a 3-3 tie. The Steelers won the coin toss, took the ball and scored on their first drive, except it was somewhat disappointing for them because they failed again at the end. Suisham kicked a 23-yard field goal to put them ahead 3-0.
Everything worked right until the end against the best defense in the red zone in the league. Roethlisberger threw a perfect pass on third down from his 21 to Bryant, who caught it at the 45 and legged it for a 44-yard gain to the KC 35.
The Steelers reached a first down at the 13 but came up short at the five and settled for three points off their 80-yard drive.
Kansas City came back to tie it on their first drive of the game. Santos kicked a 35-yard field goal after Cam Heyward sacked Smith on third down from the 10. Heyward had 1 sack in the first quarter.