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Though Pittsburgh would’ve preferred to watch longtime Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final career performance at Heinz Field, fans stayed tuned on Sunday night for the Wild Card matchup between the Steelers and Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs.
Like Big Ben throughout his career, viewers were resilient as they watched Pittsburgh take a 42-21 pummeling.
Ben Roethlisberger’s 18-year career came to an end on Sunday, per the QB’s voiced sentiments about it being the end of the road. He finished with 29-of-44 passing for 215 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, head coach Andy Reid and the rest of the Chiefs offense spoiled the moment. The Chiefs were focused and capitalized every time they got the ball back off Pittsburgh’s mistake-ridden execution.
On the opposing sideline, the Steelers offense couldn’t get a whiff of the end zone until 4:08 left in the third quarter — Roethlisberger finding Diontae Johnson for a 13-yard touchdown.
“The Steelers punted on all seven of their first-half drives,” noted the telecast.
Steelers linebacker TJ Watt, who tied Michael Strahan’s single-season record for sacks (22.5), scored a touchdown for Pittsburgh in the first quarter off a 26-yard fumble recovery. The Steelers gained the lead off Watt’s touchdown, 7-0, which preceded a 35-point run by the Chiefs. Watt also tipped a Mahomes pass that resulted in a pick, which was the QB’s only true mistake of the evening.
All five consecutive scores came through Mahomes’ MVP-level passing, completing 30-of-39 for 404 yards and one turnover.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy had an efficient strategy against the Steelers defense, showcased by a 38-second touchdown drive that traveled 80 yards before halftime. Mahomes found tight end Travis Kelce on a 48-yard touchdown connection to complete the drive.
Kelce ended with five catches, 108 yards and the score. He also threw a touchdown pass to wideout Byron Pringle in the fourth.
Mahomes threw a touchdown to Tyreek Hill (five catches, 57 yards), Pringle (two receiving TDs), guard Nick Allegretti and running back Jerick McKinnon.
McKinnon produced a superb performance: accruing 142 yards of offense between 61 yards rushing (12 carries) and 81 receiving yards (six catches).
It’s been a rough two postseasons for the NFL’s newly named No. 7 seeds between the AFC and NFC, with all four selections going 0-4 since the slot was added.
The Chiefs advance to face off against the red-hot Buffalo Bills, who defeated the New England Patriots, 47-17, on Saturday.
Sunday’s night game was short-lived in competition, but audiences were treated to the novelty of watching a legendary quarterback’s send-off.
Roethlisberger rides off into retirement with two Super Bowl victories, six Pro Bowl selections and the fifth-most wins by a quarterback.
This upcoming offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers are tasked with not only seeking a deeper playoff bid in 2022-23 but crafting an entire retooling on offense as their 18-year franchise QB tapes ice packs to his joint for the final time, marking the end of a burly and successful run.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela