KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The stumbling, bumbling Kansas City Chiefs could do nothing right.
Then Dante Hall uncorked a 1
Priest Holmes, showing again that offseason surgery did nothing to slow the NFL's 2002 Offensive Player of the Year, rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns as the Chiefs (2-0) scored on offense, defense and special teams.
"Dante's return was the biggest play of the game for us," said guard Brian Waters. "Easily. Our offense wasn't doing anything. The defense was doing their best. But, man, when that play happened it just turned the whole game around."
Hall's return, the longest for the Chiefs in almost 36 years, came immediately after the Steelers (1-1) had taken a 10-0 first-quarter lead.
Hall fielded Jeff Reed's kickoff at the goal line, cut left and sped virtually untouched up the sideline. Reed, the last Steeler between him and the end zone, flicked out his foot in an obvious attempt to trip Hall, who stumbled, regained his balance and kept going to score.
A yellow flag flew, and referee Larry Nemmers brought a groan from the crowd when he announced the touchdown was nullified by a tripping penalty against Kansas City.
But as the Chiefs screamed in disbelief, Nemmers huddled with other officials and reversed himself, giving Hall his fourth touchdown return in less than two years.
"I wasn't worried, because I knew the guy tried to trip me and they would get together and get it right," said Hall, who had a 45-yard punt return in the fourth quarter that led to Holmes' 4-yard TD run and a 34-20 lead.
"The blocking was terrific. We challenged those guys to step up and did they ever."
Holmes capped the scoring with a 31-yard TD run in the fourth quarter when he put a beauty of a move on defensive back Mike Logan about the 5.
The Chiefs' revamped defense recovered a fumble and intercepted three passes from Tommy Maddox, who'd been nearly flawless the week before against Baltimore.
That's not the way things started. The first six times the Chiefs touched the ball, they had two penalties, 4 yards rushing, one incompletion and allowed a Pittsburgh touchdown on Chad Scott's 26-yard interception return against Trent Green.
"Everything that we'd done offensively and defensively to that point, that one play took it out," said Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher. "It was one of the biggest plays of the game, because it got them right back in it."
A few minutes after Scott's TD, Maddox hit Hines Ward for a 50-yard gain to the Kansas City 7 that set up Reed's 20-yard field goal.
After Hall's return, the Steelers went up 17-7 when Maddox, following James Farrior's interception, connected with Plaxico Burress on a 33-yard TD strike.
Then, it was all Kansas City.
"We came back from some real adversity against a real good football team," said Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil. "No one's going to put us on top, but I think we took a giant step today."
Jerome Woods, who returned an interception 46 yards for a second-quarter touchdown, recovered a Pittsburgh fumble in the fourth period. Holmes quickly converted it into his third TD and a 41-20 lead.
The Chiefs had scored three touchdowns in 10 minutes on Holmes' 3-yard run, Green's 3-yard pass to Jason Dunn, and Woods' 46-yard interception return.
Dexter McCleon knocked the ball loose just as it hit Antwaan Randle El and Woods caught it and had an unobstructed path to his first career TD.
"It just tipped off my hands," said Randle El. "If I get the catch right there, that return doesn't happen."
- Reed's 51-yard field goal as time expired in the half brought the Steelers to 27-20. Notes: Kansas City returned an interception and a kickoff for touchdowns for the first time since a 31-17 win over Denver on Thanksgiving Day 1969.
- Scott has the last two interception returns for TDs against the Chiefs. He returned one 61 yards for a score in Pittsburgh's 20-17 win Oct. 14, 2001.
- Hall's fourth special teams touchdown tied him with J.T. Smith for second on the Chiefs' career list.
- There has been at least one interception run back for a score in the last three Steelers-Chiefs games.
- In 17 career starts, Maddox is 1-7 when throwing more interceptions than touchdowns.
The Associated Press News Service
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