NFL Football

Gamble proves costly in Chiefs' loss to Steelers

(TSX / STATS) -- KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Pittsburgh Steelers held off Kansas City for a 19-13 win at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, dodging a last-minute rally after the Chiefs pushed the ball past midfield with just more than a minute to play and needing a touchdown to win.

But Kansas City might have needed only a field goal to tie, had head coach Andy Reid made a different decision earlier in the fourth quarter.

The Chiefs offense struggled to move the ball much of the game against the Steelers, and found themselves trailing 12-3. On the final play of the third quarter, quarterback Alex Smith somehow escaped a Pittsburgh blitz and found running back Kareem Hunt in the open field. Hunt rumbled for 37 yards, and a late hit against Smith by safety Mike Mitchell put the ball at the Steelers' 12-yard line, giving the Chiefs their best field position of the day.

"We hadn't been down there and hadn't done much throughout the afternoon," Reid said. "We had an opportunity to get down there and potentially score. We felt like we had a couple of plays that we felt real good about and we called one of them."

Reid decided then he wanted a touchdown and not a field goal. He planned to go for it on fourth down no matter what happened.

"I was the whole way, yeah," he said after the game.

Smith lined up in an empty backfield on fourth-and-2 from the 4-yard line with five receivers against man coverage in the secondary.

"That was the first positive drive and we get down there in the red zone and it was a big opportunity if you can convert there," Smith said. "Guys were ready for it."

He initially looked left toward tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. Defensive end Cameron Heyward beat left tackle Eric Fisher to the edge and forced Smith to roll to his right. He found tight end Demetrius Harris in the end zone and fired his direction.

"I found a void and he threw a good ball and I had a chance to go get it," Harris said.

The tight end appeared initially to make the catch. He possessed the ball with two feet on the ground, but strong safety Sean Davis tied up the ball, eventually stripping it from the grasp of Harris.

"I feel like I had the ball long enough, for two seconds, to call it a touchdown," Harris said, "but he made a great play on the ball because his hand was stuck between the ball and my hand."

Reid did not believe Harris completed the catch.

"I didn't think he had it," Reid said. "He didn't have complete control of it."

The Steelers thought Davis came up with an interception. Head coach Mike Tomlin did not argue the call.

"They said he did not maintain possession of the ball through contact with the ground," the coach said.

Tomlin said his team made key plays when they needed them.

"Obviously we weren't perfect, particularly in the second half as they made their run," Tomlin said. "They're a good team and they're competitors, so we expected them to do that. Thankfully we were able to ward those guys off with a couple of significant plays."

Bypassing the field-goal try came back to haunt the Chiefs. Smith later connected with wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas for a 57-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 12-10. Steelers quarterback Ben responded with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown that put the Steelers up 19-10.

The Chiefs responded quickly with a 33-yard field goal from Harrison Butker to cut the edge to 19-13 with 3:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. The team's defense forced a punt, which Tyreek Hill returned 32 yards to the Kansas City 44-yard line with 1:42 remaining.

If the Chiefs settle for a field goal earlier, they likely needed only a field goal to force the game into overtime, drastically changing the team's focus on the final drive.

"It didn't work out," Reid said. "Hindsight ends up being that I wish we would have kicked it. But at the time I felt pretty strongly that we would complete it."

Updated October 15, 2017

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