PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers spent a week letting their worst loss in 27 years fester. Catharsis came during a frenetic stretch in the first quarter Sunday night against the seemingly unprepared Kansas City Chiefs.
Six offensive snaps. Three Ben Roethlisberger touchdowns passes. Two to Antonio Brown. One very important reminder of just how good Pittsburgh’s offense can look when all of its dynamic parts are moving in sync.
Seven days after a 31-point meltdown in Philadelphia, the Steelers overwhelmed the Chiefs 43-14 behind five touchdowns passes from Roethlisberger and 178 yards of total offense from running back Le’Veon Bell.
“I told the guys before the game, we’re driving a car and we don’t have a rearview mirror right now,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re not looking back. We’re looking forward. We’re moving on. We did a pretty good job moving on.”
Sure looked like it.
Roethlisberger hit Brown — wearing cleats featuring the profile of golf great and western Pennsylvania native Arnold Palmer — for a pair of scores. Roethlisberger also found Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jesse James for touchdowns on his way to finishing 22 of 27 for 300 yards.
“When you’ve got a Hall of Fame quarterback, it looks good like that,” center Maurkice Pouncey said the Steelers improved to 3-1.
It helps when the franchise running back is allowed to join in too. Bell returned from a torn MCL that cut short his 2015 season and a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and looked every bit as dangerous as he did when he was an All-Pro in 2014, which also happened to be the last time Bell, Brown and Roethlisberger started and finished a game together.
“I didn’t really feel like I was rusty,” Bell said. “I was more anxious if anything.”
There was no need, not on a night Pittsburgh’s struggling defense repaid a pre-game pep talk by Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene by throttling the Chiefs (2-2). The Steelers forced a pair of first-quarter turnovers that Roethlisberger promptly turned into touchdowns during a franchise-record 22-point deluge. Pittsburgh, which came in with just one sack on the season – dead last in the league – but getting to Kansas City’s Alex Smith four times and never allowing the Chiefs to get into a rhythm.
“We wanted to get’em one dimensional and take’em to the deep end of the pool,” Steelers linebacker Vince Williams said.
Smith was 30 of 50 for 287 yards and two inconsequential fourth-quarter touchdowns after things were well out of hand. Spencer Ware ran for 82 yards but also fumbled in the first quarter that kick-started Pittsburgh’s record-setting run.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid hardly bothered to spin the worst loss of his three-plus years with the Chiefs.
“This is my responsibility,” Reid said. “We clearly didn’t play well enough as a football team. We didn’t coach well enough. I take full responsibility for it and make sure we make it right.”
The Chiefs run an offense similar to the one the Eagles used to roll up 34 points against Pittsburgh last week. Yet Kansas City was never in it over the final 45 minutes and trailed 36-0 going into the fourth quarter.
“You own this right now, you wear it, and it stinks,” Smith said.
Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles ran one time for 6 yards in his first game since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last October. It was perhaps the lone bright spot on an otherwise forgettable night.
“To get him back in the mix and get him worked in more and more, it will only help us,” Smith said.
Chiefs: Running back Knile Davis was evaluated for a concussion
Steelers: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert went down with a left ankle injury late in the first half and did not return. Linebacker Anthony Chickillo (knee) and Jarvis Jones (ankle) and Heyward-Bey (shoulder) all left in the second half and did not return.
Chiefs: are off next week before traveling to take on the suddenly dangerous Oakland Raiders on Oct. 16. Kansas City is 5-1 against the Raiders under Reid.
Steelers: Begin a three-game swing against AFC East teams next Sunday when they host the New York Jets.