KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Ben Roethlisberger came to the defense of Landry Jones after the fill-in quarterback was responsible for three turnovers in the Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
''I thought he played a good game,'' Roethlisberger said Sunday. ''There are some plays he'd like to have back, but they're not his fault. I thought he called a good game. He made some checks and some audibles. I'm really proud of the way he stepped up.''
Now, it's time to step out of the way.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin expects Roethlisberger to return from his knee injury for next week's game against Cincinnati. The big quarterback practiced a bit this week, but Tomlin decided to stick with Jones, who had gotten the majority of repetitions in practice.
Jones wound up throwing for 209 yards and a touchdown, but he also tossed a pair of costly interceptions, and his fumble in the closing minutes helped seal the outcome.
''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.''
Asked how close he is to returning, Roethlisberger replied: ''Pretty close.''
Even without him, the Steelers (4-3) were pretty close to overcoming the Chiefs.
They trailed 16-3 late in the third quarter, but a touchdown catch by Martavis Bryant and a field goal by Chris Boswell made it a game. It wasn't until Alex Smith found Chris Conley for a TD reception with 5:13 left in the game that Kansas City (2-5) finally felt comfortable.
The Chiefs held on from there to snap a five-game losing streak.
''I feel like this team is building. We're doing something,'' said Conley, who started in place of the injured Jeremy Maclin. ''Things are turning around for us.''
Smith threw for 251 yards and a touchdown without an interception, while Charcandrick West ran for 110 yards and his first career score. Tamba Hali had a pair of sacks, and Eric Berry had his first interception since being diagnosed with cancer last December.
In other words, a solid victory for a team in desperate need of a positive result.
''That feeling in the locker room?'' Smith said. ''It's the highest of highs.''
As the Steelers look forward to Roethlisberger's return, and the Chiefs turn their attention toward playing Detroit in London, here are some takeaways from Sunday:
GO WEST, YOUNG MAN: Getting another start in place of the injured Jamaal Charles, West ran with authority all afternoon. And when he realized he had 99 yards rushing late in the game, he made sure to get a couple more yards. ''That was my goal,'' he said, ''100 yards and a touchdown.''
BANGED-UP BACKFIELD: The Steelers' William Gay hurt his shoulder and fellow cornerback Antwon Blake was checked for a concussion during the game. Safety Will Allen was inactive with an ankle injury, while Cortez Allen recently went on injured reserve. ''They made the plays and we didn't,'' said Robert Golden, who started in Allen's place. ''They made the splash plays.''
BIG-TIME BRYANT: The touchdown catch by Bryant was his 11th in 12 career games, and stood after the officials reviewed to see whether he was bobbling the ball. ''I had a sense that I had caught it,'' he said. ''I tried to get my feet down, but I didn't really know.''
SACK ATTACK: Hali's first multi-sack game since December 2013 gave him 82 1/2 sacks for his career, four behind Neil Smith for second on the franchise list. Derrick Thomas holds the record with 126 1/2 sacks during his Hall of Fame career.
MACLIN'S SITUATION: Maclin passed the NFL's concussion protocol late in the week, but he was examined again on Sunday and the Chiefs' training staff decided to sit him out. ''We're charged with protecting these players,'' trainer Rick Burkholder said. ''He'll be evaluated again (Monday) to see what his status will be for London.''
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