Revived Steelers clobber Chiefs
Revived Steelers clobber Chiefs
By Scott Brown
Monday, October 16, 2006
Let the record show the Steelers will be credited with only one win for Sunday's superlative effort.
But, oh, what a victory for a team that needed one to do nothing less than save its season.
Playing with the consistency that had been as elusive as wins over the last month, the Steelers jumped to a 31-point halftime lead and cruised to 45-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in front of 64,727 fans at Heinz Field.
In one of many measures of how dominant the Steelers were, the Chiefs had to resort to hair-pulling to stop them, as Kansas City Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson did to Troy Polamalu after the All-Pro safety made an interception.
In snapping a three-game losing streak, the Steelers (2-3) proved to be even more spectacular than the weather Sunday, something that probably seemed close to impossible a couple of hours before kickoff.
Embattled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger snapped out of a slump by turning in the kind of performance Steelers fans had come to expect -- if not demand -- of the third-year pro.
Roethlisberger completed 16-of-19 passes for 238 yards and a pair of scores, while tailback Willie Parker and reserve Najeh Davenport upstaged Johnson in gashing what had been a surprisingly stingy Chiefs defense for almost 200 rushing yards and three scores.
The defense didn't give up a first down in the second quarter, when the Steelers blew the game open, and it picked off Chiefs quarterbacks three times.
"Obviously, it was a great team effort," said Steelers coach Bill Cowher, whose team visits the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. "I just wanted us to play football and eliminate all of the negative vibes out there. I'm not saying we've done anything with one game, but it was a nice effort."
The Steelers did get a little careless with the ball -- they had four fumbles, including a pair on punt returns, and lost one of them -- but it's hard to imagine how the day could have turned out better for them.
In addition to getting a badly needed win, the Steelers gained a game on the two teams in front of them in the AFC North; the Cincinnati Bengals were upset by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Baltimore Ravens were beaten by the Carolina Panthers.
The Steelers are just a game behind the Bengals and one-and-a-half back of the division-leading Ravens.
"There's so much football left to be played," Cowher said. "People were giving us a eulogy and writing our epitaph (last week). You just don't get caught up in it."
As good as Roethlisberger looked, his offensive line gave him time to throw, and his receivers easily played their best game, collectively, of the season.
In the first half alone, Roethlisberger completed passes of 50 (to Santonio Holmes) and 47 yards (Nate Washington) -- this after his previous season long had been 32 yards.
"It was important for us to come out and really get it going early," Roethlisberger said. "We did a good job of that."
In the first 30 minutes, Roethlisberger completed all but two of the 15 passes he attempted for more than 200 yards, and his quarterback rating checked in at a very healthy 158.3 at halftime.
After intermission, the Steelers dialed down the passing game, and defensively, they yielded a touchdown but little else to the Chiefs, who got just 26 rushing yards from Johnson.
"We played against a championship team today," Johnson said.
One that finally looked the part of a defending Super Bowl champion