Chiefs’ Smith nearly leads comeback in loss to Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers players stop Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith put together another impressive stat line Sunday.

All that was missing was the outcome.

Smith threw for 246 yards and a touchdown, once again getting through a game without an interception, but couldn’t quite rally Kansas City down the stretch.

He threw an incomplete pass on a crucial fourth down deep in Pittsburgh territory early in the fourth quarter, then misfired again on fourth down with less than a minute left, allowing the Steelers to escape with a 19-13 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

”Certainly they defended us well,” said Smith, who came into the game as the league’s top-rated passer. ”They played really good defense and a lot of things we did were uncharacteristic as well.”

The Chiefs (5-1) played about as poorly on offense as any team all season in the first half, gaining just 6 yards.

Running back Kareem Hunt was repeatedly stuffed at the line of scrimmage, Smith had a hard time finding open targets and first downs were nearly nonexistent.

”Pretty brutal,” Smith said. ”Tough to put into words. I mean at that point, (we were) pretty much just shut out, never really had anything that was positive at all.”

Despite their poor performance, the Chiefs were still in the game late. Harrison Butker’s 33-yard field goal cut the deficit to 19-13 with 2:17 left in the game.

Three strong defensive plays and two timeouts later, the Steelers punted the ball to Tyreek Hill, whose 32-yard return set up the Chiefs at their 44-yard line with 1:48 to go.

But after picking up a first down, the Chiefs stalled, and James Harrison’s sack on third down and Smith’s incomplete pass on fourth down sealed the victory for Pittsburgh.

”We do a lot of situation two-minute stuff, and you would take that situation every day of the week,” Smith said. ”That much time, a timeout, that field position. To go down and get a score, that’s definitely doable and we just couldn’t get it done, for whatever reason.”

CRITICAL CALL: On fourth-and-2 from the Pittsburgh 4, the Chiefs opted to go for it rather than kick a field goal to make it a one-possession game. If the field goal was good, they would have merely needed another field goal on the final drive to force overtime – rather than a touchdown.

”I do what my gut tells me,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ”I thought that was the right thing.”

HUNT STUFFED: Hunt entered the game as the league’s leading rusher, but the rookie was effectively contained by the Pittsburgh front seven, finishing with just 21 yards on nine attempts. His biggest value came in the passing game, where he had five catches for a team-leading 89 yards.

”They played a good game,” Hunt said. ”They came out, had a good game.”

BELL’S TOLL: Le’Veon Bell, meanwhile, had an outstanding performance on the ground, finishing with 179 yards and a touchdown for Pittsburgh. It was a familiar sight for Kansas City, which watched Bell pound for 170 yards in the Steelers’ playoff win in January.

”Y’all keep worrying about last year,” Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters said. ”We was just worried about stopping him today. What’s in the past don’t matter no more. … He ran the ball good, you feel me?”

PILING IT ON: Hill’s big return gave the Chiefs a chance in the final minutes, but he paid the price with a nasty blow along the sideline that left him being evaluated for a concussion. The Chiefs were already short on wide receivers with Chris Conley on injured reserve because of a ruptured Achilles tendon and Albert Wilson out with a knee injury.

”It hurts,” Smith said. ”Obviously losing Chris last week, and Albert not being dressed, you’re down to some young guys out there in big, big situations that haven’t had a lot of reps in that.”

UP NEXT: The Steelers return home to face Cincinnati on Sunday, while the Chiefs must rebound in short time. They visit the AFC West rival Raiders on Thursday night.

”It’s a short turnaround,” Reid said. ”Right back on it tomorrow, so you have to heal up fast and use all of the technology that we have, take care of yourselves, rest and get ready.”

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