PITTSBURGH - The Steelers needed a hero Monday night.
They lost their offensive and defensive leaders to injuries and were already playing without four starters. They also were struggling to beat a 1-7 team they were supposed to crush.
Linebacker Lawrence Timmons hasn't produced many memorable moments in his six-year NFL career, but he came through in the clutch for the Steelers late Monday.
Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich
Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defenders Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. He left the game after the hit and did not return.
Timmons intercepted a Matt Cassel pass on the second play of overtime and set up the game-winning field goal to help the Steelers pull out a 16-13 victory over the lowly Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field.
The Steelers improved their winning streak to four games and are now 6-3 with a battle with the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens looming next Sunday night.
"I was basically dropping back in coverage,'' Timmons said. "Our defensive line did a great job all night getting pressure on [Cassel], and it caused him to rush his throw. I was there to make the play and caught the ball and made the play.''
Cassel was trying to throw to Dwayne Bowe, but Timmons picked the ball out of the air at the Kansas City 28-yard line and returned it to the 5. Shaun Suisham was immediately sent out onto the field and booted the game-winning, 23-yard field goal.
"The guys made the necessary plays to get out of the stadium with the win,'' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Big-time kudos to all of the people that made the necessary plays, particularly Lawrence Timmons, who made a big play there for us in overtime.''
Timmons' heroics were needed mainly because players like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Ryan Clark were not on the field due to injuries. Their playing statuses for next week's game against Baltimore are now in doubt.
Roethlisberger sustained a right shoulder injury in the third quarter and was being evaluated after the game, according to Tomlin. He was replaced by Byron Leftwich. Clark was being evaluated for a concussion after he hobbled off the field late in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, those two men are critical to our efforts here moving ahead,'' Tomlin said.
The Steelers were already playing without dynamic receiver Antonio Brown, All Pro safety Troy Polamalu, running back Rashard Mendenhall and right tackle Marcus Gilbert.
But the team pulled together to beat one of the worst teams in the league.
"We just stayed positive,'' Timmons said. "It's easy to try to get down on yourself, but we are not like that. We stand up, face adversity, and this defense did well.''
The Steelers spotted the 12 1/2-point underdog Chiefs an early 10-0 lead. Kansas City, with the help of a Cassel-to-Tony Moeaki 38-yard pass, traveled 70 yards in four plays and grabbed a 7-0 advantage on Jamaal Charles' 12-yard touchdown run.
Later in the first quarter, Steelers running back Isaac Redman fumbled the ball at his own 9-yard line, and the Chiefs' Allen Bailey recovered it. Ryan Succop then kicked a 22-yard field goal at the beginning of the second quarter.
The Steelers got back into the game when they inserted Jonathan Dwyer into the backfield after Redman's fumble. They started at their own 40-yard line and made it to the Kansas City 17 before Suisham's 35-yard field goal gave them their first points of the night.
Dwyer then broke off runs of 6, 17 and 6 yards, and Roethlisberger took off on a 14-yarder to move Pittsburgh to the Kansas City 7. Roethlisberger then fired a fade pass to Mike Wallace in the back corner of the end zone, and Wallace made a one-handed rolling catch that stood up after a video review and tied the game at 10-10 at halftime.
The Chiefs were their own worst enemy in the third quarter. A holding call against left tackle Branden Albert nullified a 22-yard touchdown reception by Bowe. Four plays later, Succop missed right on a 33-yard field-goal attempt.
The Steelers then were helped by two Chiefs penalties on a 73-yard drive that lasted into the fourth quarter. Cornerback Javier Arenas was called for pass interference on Emmanuel Sanders to give Pittsburgh 22 yards on third-and-3, and linebacker Tamba Hali was whistled for roughing the passer on third-and-12 at the KC 27.
Eventually, Suisham gave the Steelers a 13-10 lead with 12:37 left in the game with a 31-yard field goal, and it appeared as though the Chiefs' spirit had been broken.
But Kansas City managed to put together a two-minute drive in the final moments of the game. Cassel connected to Moeaki on passes of 18 and 12 yards to get to midfield. Cassel then found Bowe for 27 yards on a fourth-and-15 play from the KC 45.
Succop then was good from 46 yards away as the clock expired to send the game into overtime.
"[Kansas City] is a tough team,'' Timmons said. "I wouldn't say we were looking ahead [to Baltimore]. This is the NFL. You are playing against great talent every week.''