Jones struggles as Steelers fall to Chiefs
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No matter how Landry Jones fared in his first start for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was a good chance Ben Roethlisberger would be back soon enough for it to be his last.
Jones didn't exactly do much to give coach Mike Tomlin a choice.
The third-year pro threw for 209 yards and a touchdown Sunday, but Jones was also picked off twice and lost a fumble in a 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I don't think I played very well, just from the initial feeling," said Jones, who started in place of the injured Roethlisberger and Mike Vick.
"There were so many opportunities to go out there and win that game. I threw two picks, fumbled one. You can't win when you play like that."
After the game, Tomlin said that Roethlisberger was close to being ready to go, and that his knee injury should be healed enough in time for next week's game against Cincinnati.
"We decided to go with the guy that had the practice reps. That was the appropriate thing to do. No second-guessing," Tomlin said. "We'll move forward with Ben as we prepare this week."
LeVeon Bell ran for 121 yards for the Steelers (4-3), who had won three straight against Kansas City. Antonio Brown had six catches for 124 yards, and Martavis Bryant caught his 11th touchdown pass in 12 career games.
It still wasn't enough to overcome the turnovers and miscues.
"They made more dynamic plays," Tomlin said, "particularly over the last 30 minutes of the game. They converted necessary third downs on offense and made dynamic, game-changing plays."
Alex Smith threw for 251 yards and a touchdown, and Charcandrick West ran for 110 yards and his first career score, helping the Chiefs (2-5) end a five-game losing streak.
"This is something we've been working toward," said Eric Berry, whose first interception since being diagnosed with cancer in December led to the Chiefs' first touchdown.
The first half amounted to a field-goal fest, which wasn't all that surprising considering the amount of offensive talent that both teams were missing to injury.
Santos hit three of them after Chiefs drives stalled in the red zone, though he did miss a 54-yarder just before the half. Chris Boswell knocked through a 24-yarder for Pittsburgh.
The Chiefs finally established a cushion midway through the third quarter.
It began when Jones threw a pass over the middle that skipped away from Brown and right to Berry, who reacted quickly enough to make the diving interception.
The Chiefs capitalized by driving 47 yards, at one point using a hurry-up offense to keep Pittsburgh off-balance. West finally plunged in from a yard on third-and-goal to end a streak of seven trips to the red zone without a touchdown, and giving Kansas City a 16-3 lead.
"Unreal," West said. "I feel like I'm still in the end zone."
Pittsburgh quickly answered behind Jones, whose 41-yard completion to Brown helped set up its lone touchdown. Jones lofted a pass that Bryant hauled in while tip-toing in the corner of the end zone — replays confirmed he made the reception after initially bobbling it.
The Chiefs were forced to punt, the Steelers added another field goal, and suddenly it looked as if another fourth-quarter lead would evaporate at Arrowhead Stadium.
This time, the struggling Kansas City offense — missing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to injury and with a revamped offensive line — made every play that mattered.
Smith hit tight end Travis Kelce for a 26-yard reception to convert a third down, and West ripped off a 36-yard run moments later. He added a short run on an option play to convert another third down, and Smith hit Conley from 5 yards with 5:13 left to put the game away.
"We didn't let off the accelerator for four quarters," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "I thought that was important."
Notes: Steelers CBs William Gay (shoulder) and Antwon Blake (concussion) left the game. Their status for next week was unknown. ... The Chiefs last beat Pittsburgh on Nov. 27, 2011. ... The Steelers had been plus-6 in turnover differential, tied for the league lead. They were minus-3 on Sunday. ... Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller did not catch a pass, ending a streak of 110 games.