The highlight for the Steelers on Sunday occurred when they moved into the seventh seed in the AFC playoff race thanks to the Texans’ upset of the Chargers.
Unfortunately, that result went into the books before Pittsburgh took the field for a 4:25 kickoff against the juggernaut Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
So just how long did the Steelers hold onto that seventh and final postseason spot? Technically, they were in that slot for over three hours, but if we’re being real, Pittsburgh was toast the moment the Chiefs’ offense, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, took its opening possession and marched 73 yards on 14 plays and grabbed a 7-0 lead after running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was met rudely by both Alex Highsmith and Robert Spillane, shook off what should have been a tackle and scampered home for a touchdown on second and goal from the one.
One play later, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw an ugly interception on a flea-flicker attempt and, you guessed it, Kansas City quickly turned that into seven more points on a five-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to receiver Byron Pringle.
From there, the rout was on.
The Chiefs added nine more points to close out the first half to take a 23-0 lead into the locker room. Pittsburgh’s only serious first-half scoring threat ended when kicker Chris Boswell missed a 36-yard field goal with the visitors trailing 17-0.
Not only was Pittsburgh shut out in the first half, but it was also the fifth-straight game that the offense failed to score a touchdown over the first 30 minutes.
The Chiefs were methodical with their execution in the second half, as they built a 36-3 lead.
Pittsburgh’s only touchdown came in garbage time when Roethlisberger connected with receiver Diontae Johnson for a 15-yard touchdown with 2:54 left in regulation.
Roethlisberger completed 23 of 35 passes for 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception exiting late in the game for backup Mason Rudolph.
The defense was just about as ineffective as the offense, as it failed to come up with any big plays and barely got any pressure on Mahomes.
The loss not only drops the Steelers back out of a playoff spot but also 1.5 games out of first place in the AFC North, thanks to the Bengals’ thorough beatdown of the Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium.
Next up for the Steelers is a Monday night game against the Browns at Heinz Field, the last regular-season home matchup for 2021 and possibly Roethlisberger’s career.