In a matter of seconds, the Chiefs got a play they needed followed by a tough break, both involving speedster Tyreek Hill.
The Chiefs trailed by six but worked their way to a final possession with two minutes remaining and in decent field position thanks to Hill’s 32-yard punt return that set up the Chiefs at their 44.
Training throughout the game, a comeback, once seemingly improbable, was presented to the Chiefs.
“Great opportunity,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “We do a lot of situational two-minute stuff. You would take that situation every day of the week, that much time, a timeout, that field position to go down and get a score.
“That’s definitely do-able. We just couldn’t get it done, for whatever reason.”
One of those reasons the game ended in a 19-13 Steelers victory was the unavailability of several key weapons at the moment.
The Chiefs played without starting wide receiver Albert Wilson, a pregame scratch because of a knee injury. Wide receiver Chris Conley was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles suffered last weekend.
And on the punt return, Hill was hit hard by Tyler Matakevich and Roosevelt Nix, and the Chiefs’ fastest player was knocked from the game.
Andy Reid said afterwards that Hill had entered the concussion protocol. His availability for Thursday’s game at Oakland isn’t known.
“It hurts,” Smith said. “You follow it up with losing Chris last week and Albert not being dressed. You’re down to some young guys out there in big, big situations who haven’t had a lot of reps. But no one cares. You have to go.”
Those young guys included Demarcus Robinson, making his first NFL start. He had a 16-yard reception on the final drive — his only catch of the day — that took the Chiefs from their 44 to the Steelers’ 40. Two snaps later, Smith overthrew Robinson on a ball that could have set up the Chiefs inside the 20.
The Chiefs got no closer on the possession.
Other wide receivers on the field for the final gasp were De’Anthony Thomas, who had turned a reception into a 57-yard score for the Chiefs’ only touchdown, and Marcus Kemp, who had been elevated from the practice squad earlier in the week.
But as Thomas said, it shouldn’t have come down to a final possession thrust. The Chiefs played one of the worst first halves on the offensive side in franchise history, amassing nine yards on 11 snaps, and one first down.
“We started off real slow,” Thomas said. “We picked it back up, but when that whistle blows we have to take it to a team. Let them know we’re here. We did that in the second half, but never got started in the first half.”