By Kristen Wagner
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Steelers call tails and the Chiefs win the opening coin toss. The kick is in the air. Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles makes the catch. He dodges tackles, swerves around the opposing team and returns the opening kickoff 97 yards for a Kansas City touchdown. And that folks, is just the beginning of a long and disappointing game for fans of the black and gold.
In a game where the Steelers were destined to win, fate took a wrong turn. Radio stations, news stations and ESPN claimed that this would be like a Steelers bye-week, but they were all wrong. The two-win team would start the game strong, and they would finish it strong, leaving the defending World Champions wounded and conquered.
The defending Superbowl champions left Arrowhead Stadium Sunday with a 27-24 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left with a slight concussion, while backup quarterback Charlie Batch also left with an injury to the wrist.
According to NFL.com, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley encourages his team to be confident in themselves. “We’re a young team and I really feel like we’ve been making progress,” said Haley. “I felt like going into this game this would be a great opportunity to measure where we were as a team. That team we played today is as well a coached team in the league as there is. They’re the model for what we’re striving to get to.”
It seemed as if the Steelers needed to find that confidence within their team that the Chiefs had within theirs. The Steelers needed some help throughout the game, but unfortunately help was slightly out of reach.
At halftime the Steelers were leading 17-7, but Roethlisberger’s pass to Heath Miller was intercepted by a Chiefs linebacker, Andy Studebaker. The interception ended with a Kansas City touchdown thrown by Matt Cassel to Leonard Pope, making the score 17-14.
The score was tied up at 17-17 when Ryan Succop made a field goal for the Chiefs. The Steelers gained the lead again after that when Rashard Mendenhall caught a touchdown pass, and the score was 24-17. But then a touchdown pass was caught by Charles for the Chiefs, tying up the score again at 24-24.
All of this action led the two teams into overtime. Hines Ward called tails, winning the coin flip and getting the ball back for the Steelers, and hopefully providing them a chance to take home the win. It was in the end that the sacks on Roethlisberger, missed, overthrown and dropped passes all led to the downfall of the Steelers.
According to Steelers.com, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin took responsibility for the loss. “I take responsibility for that performance,” said Tomlin. “I got to get this football team better prepared to play, and ultimately we got to play better than what we played in that stadium. We’re capable of much more than that.”
And now the Steelers must face the disappointed fans and the mistakes that they made in what was supposed to be an easy game for them to win.
“It was a tense scene for a Steelers fan,” said Cody Clarke, a devoted Pittsburgh fan. “There was anticipation of victory during the final minutes, but hope just wasn’t enough.”
It was during the final minutes of that intense game that fans of the black and gold realized that their hope just wasn’t enough this time. The reality of the overtime outcome would slowly settle in, and dedicated Steelers fans and followers would be faced with a long journey home. The Steelers now have 6 wins and 4 losses. Their next game will be against the Baltimore Ravens on November 29.