Steelers lock up playoff berth, move into AFC North lead

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Pittsburgh, PA ( - The Steelers are back in the playoffs.

Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass and Pittsburgh's defense held strong in a 20-12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field.

The Steelers (10-5) secured a wild card berth and will host Cincinnati next Sunday for the AFC North title. The Bengals (9-4-1) host AFC West-champion Denver Monday night.

Pittsburgh, in the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season, held the Chiefs (8-7) out of the end zone and limited them to four Cairo Santos field goals. Kansas City's playoff hopes are slim heading into next Sunday's home game against San Diego (9-6).

"A lot of good efforts by a lot of people," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "We realized what next week is. It's a big week for us."

The Steelers exacted revenge on the Chiefs for last season. In the final week, Kansas City rested the majority of its starters in a 27-24 overtime loss to San Diego. That ultimately knocked Pittsburgh out of playoff contention.

The Chiefs lost for the fourth time in five games.

"We'll go back and analyze this, review it and learn from it," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

Shaun Suisham's 23-yard field goal widened Pittsburgh's lead to 20-9 with 4:04 remaining. That capped a 12-play, 70-yard march that took 6:14 on the clock. The drive was aided by a 24-yard pass interference penalty on Jamell Fleming on 3rd-and-3 from the KC 48.

Santos split the uprights from 23 yards out with 1:37 left, but the Steelers were able to kill the clock when the Chiefs failed to recover the onside kick.

Roethlisberger completed 18-of-25 passes for 220 yards. Le'Veon Bell rushed 20 times for 63 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh's third consecutive win.

Alex Smith finished 31-of-45 for 311 yards for the Chiefs, who also received 29 rushing yards from Jamaal Charles.

Suisham's 23-yard field goal capped Pittsburgh's 11-play, 80-yard drive to open the game. The big play of the march was a 44-yard reception by Martavis Bryant down the right sideline during a 3rd-and-4 play from the Pittsburgh 21.

Santos tied the game with a 35-yard field goal on KC's first possession, during which Smith converted a key 3rd-and-16 with a 19-yard connection to Albert Wilson.

The Chiefs pushed the envelope twice in the second quarter in an attempt to get into the end zone. First, they faked a field goal, and Travis Kelce's 6- yard gain gave the Chiefs a 1st-and-goal from the 6. The drive stalled, and Santos kicked a 25-yard field goal with 9:25 left in the half.

Pittsburgh battled back to grab a 10-6 edge. Roethlisberger converted a 3rd- and-7 with a 13-yard pass to Markus Wheaton to the KC 32. A 14-yard reception by Heath Miller brought the ball to the 6, but the Chiefs made two stops from the 1 on a pair of incompletions. On 4th-and-goal, Bell rushed off right tackle into the end zone with 4:18 remaining.

Smith led the Chiefs from their own 16 to the Pittsburgh 12. but on 4th-and- inches and under 30 seconds left in the half, the Chiefs opted to run Charles up the middle. He was met by linebacker Lawrence Timmons and a host of Steelers for no gain. On the play prior, De'Anthony Thomas caught a 5-yard pass, which would have been a first down, but replays showed Thomas' knee hit the ground before he stretched the ball to the marker.

Charles was stripped of the ball midway through the third quarter. The turnover led to Roethlisberger's 3-yard TD connection to the middle of the end zone to Antonio Brown with 34 seconds left in the quarter for a 17-6 margin. Roethlisberger appeared to injure his knee during the scoring play when defensive tackle Vance Walker stuck his foot out and made contact with the Pittsburgh QB just as he stood in the pocket and threw the TD pass.

Roethlisberger went to the locker room but returned in time for Pittsburgh's next offensive series after Santos drilled a 43-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Game Notes

Brown had seven receptions for 72 yards ... Bell's TD was just the third rushing one allowed by KC all season ... Pittsburgh has won six straight games in December.