The most extensive dress rehearsal of the summer ended Saturday night with more mixed results for the Chiefs. Their passing game came alive, and special teams were again spectacular in what eventually became a 26-20 overtime win over the Steelers.
The Chiefs won the game on the only possession of overtime. Backup quarterback Chase Daniel led the Chiefs on a 71-yard drive that ended with his 15-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Rico Richardson.
But while the Chiefs rallied from an early 10-0 deficit and won for the first time in three preseason games under new coach Andy Reid, they were far from perfect. Their running game was again unproductive while the defense failed to contain Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and didn’t force a turnover.
The Chiefs’ starters left the game for good early in the third quarter with the score tied 10-10. The Chiefs fell behind 10-0, allowing the Steelers to score on each of their first two possessions. Pittsburgh first drove 70 yards before settling for a 28-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham.
The only touchdown allowed by the starting Chiefs defense came after Kansas City failed to convert on fourth down from its own 21. Roethlisberger scrambled to buy time on third and goal from the 13 and found Jonathan Dwyer uncovered for the touchdown.
The Chiefs hadn’t completed a pass to the starting wide receivers in the first two preseason games, but quarterback Alex Smith got the ball to Donnie Avery and Dwayne Bowe a total of 12 times for 127 yards.
“There were some big plays all along in there that are important,” coach Andy Reid said. “You can’t just chip away 5 yards at a time. You’ve got to get some big plays, and guys did that.”
Reid said the Chiefs intended to go down the field even more with their passes.
Smith completed 17 of 24 passes for 158 yards and a 5-yard touchdown to Junior Hemingway. Smith was sacked just once, on a play where he had time to get rid of the ball.
“I think we’ve done some good things,” Smith said, addressing the state of the passing game. “We did some good things in training camp. We put some good things together at times during the preseason.
“The passing game is like anything. You’re never totally satisfied.”
But the running game was unproductive. Jamaal Charles started after missing last week’s game because of a strained foot. He gained just 10 yards in seven carries and was stopped without a gain on successive plays on the drive that ended with the failed fourth-down play.
A 38-yard scramble by Smith set up Kansas City’s first score, a 19-yard field goal from Ryan Succop.
Smith then completed six of eight pass attempts on a late first-half drive that ended with his touchdown throw to Hemingway, which happened with 18 seconds left in the first half.
With the backups for both teams in the game, Pittsburgh went ahead 17-10 in the third quarter on a 34-yard pass from Bruce Gradkowski to Markus Wheaton, who got behind Neiko Thorpe and Tysyn Hartman.
The Chiefs got the score right back on a 109-yard kickoff return by Knile Davis, who earlier in the period lost a fumble on an offensive play. The Chiefs earlier came up with a big play in the kicking game when Hartman blocked Suisham’s 52-yard field-goal attempt.
Pittsburgh went ahead 20-17 in the fourth quarter on Suisham’s 27-yard field goal.
The Chiefs then took possession at their 19 with 4:51 left. Daniel completed five passes for 52 yards on a drive that took the Chiefs to the Steelers’ 10. But he was sacked on a second-down play, and the Chiefs eventually had to settle for a 38-yard field goal from Succop to tie the game at 20-20 with 1:32 left.
On the winning drive, Daniel scrambled twice to gain 28 yards. The Chiefs were also aided by a 15-yard penalty for a horse-collar tackle.