KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For one quarter, the Pittsburgh Steelers fought tooth and nail with one of the most talented teams in the NFL.
For one more quarter, they kept things close. After that, they simply ran out of gas.
After failing to score on their first five drives, the Kansas City Chiefs converted for touchdowns on their next six, turning a tight game into a rout and a 42-14 victory.
The second-seeded Chiefs will move on to play the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers will see their season end in the Wild Card round for the second consecutive season. The Steelers have not won a playoff game since 2017,
The teams combined to punt seven times in a defense-dominated first quarter. In the second, the Steelers took an unlikely lead when T.J. Watt scooped up a fumble forced by Cam Heyward and scored.
But the Kansas City offense would not be denied. Patrick Mahomes responded with the first of six straight touchdowns.
The Steelers offense never responded until the game as all the way out of hand. Ben Roethlisberger finished with 171 yards on 25 of 39 passing and two garbage-time touchdowns for an 88.6 passer rating.
The ground game fared no better, with Najee Harris rushing 12 times for 29 yards.
The defense did an effective job of bottling up Mahomes early on, but spent an enormous amount of time on the field while the offense was struggling, which seemed to have a cumulative effect as the game wore on.
The game will likely be Roethlisberger’s last.