Steelers’ D holds on for 13-9 win over Chiefs

The way quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sounded Sunday night, the

Steelers not only should have lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, they

shouldn’t be allowed to show their faces in Pittsburgh any time

soon.

The Steelers eked out a 13-9 victory over a team that has now

lost four straight, and if not for an interception by Keenan Lewis

with 29 seconds remaining, could well have lost. But the fact

remained that Pittsburgh came out on top, and is still tied with

Baltimore atop the AFC North.

”It’s tough,” Roethlisberger said, ”because it’s a mixed

feeling type of thing: You’re happy to get the win, but you’re

disappointed the way the offense played. I think that’s what team’s

all about. The defense stepped up huge today.”

Yes, things may have been miserable for Pittsburgh on offense,

but clearly Big Ben wasn’t giving enough credit to the guys on the

other side of the ball.

The Steelers picked off Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko three

times and recovered a fumbled snap, despite playing most of the way

without star safety Troy Polamalu, who experienced concussion-like

symptoms after banging his head into the knee of a Chiefs player

while making a tackle.

All those miscues kept Kansas City out of the end zone for the

second straight week.

”It was a situation where we didn’t feel like Palko could get

it over our heads,” safety Ryan Clark said. ”The play Keenan made

at the end, that’s a signature play for him and for our

defense.”

Roethlisberger finished 21 of 31 for 193 yards with a touchdown

and an interception for the Steelers (8-3), despite playing with a

broken thumb on his throwing hand that hurt the whole game.

”Absolutely not,” he said. ”It was not comfortable.”

Roethlisberger proved that he’s better than Palko with one good

hand, though.

The journeyman quarterback, making his second consecutive start

in place of the injured Matt Cassel, fared little better than he

did last week against New England, when he tossed three picks in

his first NFL start. Palko finished 18 of 28 for 167 yards and four

big turnovers.

The Chiefs claimed former Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton off

waivers Wednesday with the intention of having him compete with

Palko for the starting job, a competition that might already be

over. Orton didn’t arrive in town until Friday, so he didn’t have

time to learn the playbook before Sunday night.

”He’ll have a much better chance this week to compete,” Chiefs

coach Todd Haley said, ”and like I said, Tyler is the starter, but

whatever position we say, if someone gives us a better chance to

win, that’s the guideline we generally follow.”

Kansas City led 3-0 in the second quarter when Palko’s first

interception, which Ike Taylor returned to the Chiefs 8, resulted

in a 21-yard field goal by the Steelers’ Shaun Suisham.

The second pick was returned by Ryan Mundy, who had taken over

at safety for Polamalu, to the Kansas City 24. The defense appeared

to hold Pittsburgh when Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali sacked

Roethlisberger on third-and-7, but safety Jon McGraw was called for

defensive holding to give the Steelers a first down.

Three plays later, Roethlisberger found Weslye Saunders in the

back of the end zone.

”He was kind of one of the last options,” Roethlisberger said.

”I saw Wes coming in the back of the end zone, he’s kind of a big

target, so I just kind of threw it up to him.”

Ryan Succop added a 49-yard field goal later in the second

quarter for Kansas City, his second of the game, but Suisham

answered with his own 49-yarder on the final play of the first

half.

Succop added a 40-yard field goal with 6:11 left in the fourth

quarter.

Polamalu left the game in the first quarter when he tackled

290-pound Chiefs offensive tackle Steve Maneri, who had caught a

pass in the flat after lining up in the backfield.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year hit his head hit

Maneri’s knee and crumpled to the turf, where he lay while trainers

came out to check on him. Polamalu was a bit wobbly when he stood

up and coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that he was

experiencing ”concussion-like symptoms.”

Roethlisberger showed little evidence of the broken thumb that

caused him to be somewhat limited in practice, hitting 10 different

receivers. He got some help from Rashard Mendenhall, who ran for 57

yards, and a defense that kept giving the Pittsburgh offense prime

field position.

The Steelers squandered a promising opportunity in the first

quarter, driving inside the Chiefs 10-yard line. Backup running

back Mewelde Moore had the ball poked out by Hali and it was

recovered by Javier Arenas in the end zone for a touchback.

Kansas City gave the ball right back when Palko fumbled the snap

moments later.

Pittsburgh also had a decent drive end midway through the

scoreless third when Roethlisberger underthrew Antonio Brown down

the sideline. Kansas City safety Travis Daniels swooped in to make

the interception, but the Chiefs’ bumbling offense couldn’t

capitalize.

That wound up being the story of the game.

”We’re excited about winning – and winning on the road – and

making the necessary plays,” Tomlin said. ”We produced turnovers

tonight, and that was big for us.”

Notes: Kansas native Martina McBride sang the national anthem.

Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet, who attended Kansas State, threw

the ceremonial first pass. … Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey left in

the first half with an illness. … The Chiefs finished with 252

yards of total offense.