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Roethlisberger, Steelers end skid with rout of Chiefs

Oct 15, 2006 - 11:37 PM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Larry Johnson pulled down Troy Polamalu by the hair. But it was the Pittsburgh Steelers who pushed the Kansas City Chiefs all over the field.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 238 yards and two touchdowns and Willie Parker and Najeh Davenport combined for 187 yards and three scores as the defending Super Bowl champions snapped a three-game losing streak with a resounding 45-7 victory over the Chiefs.

Pittsburgh (2-3) scored on five of six possessions in the first half when it built a 31-0 lead and totaled 372 yards. Meanwhile, the Chiefs (2-3) managed just 47 yards and two first downs in the first half.

"We started real fast," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "Ben threw the ball well and we did a good job protecting him. It was just a great team effort."

The only notable event in the second half came when Polamalu, the Steelers' Pro Bowl safety with the long hair flowing through his helmet, was dragged down by his hair by Johnson, Kansas City's Pro Bowl running back, after returning an interception 49 yards.

"The tackle (by the hair) didn't hurt at all," Polamalu said. "If I've got the ball in my hands they can tackle me all day like that. I won't cut my hair. By the ankles or the hair it doesn't matter if I have the ball."

Grabbing a player's hair is legal in the NFL, but Johnson was given a 15-yard penalty for taunting after the play. Last week, Johnson had his head twisted back on a vicious facemask penalty by Arizona cornerback Antrel Rolle, who was fined $12,500.

"When I grabbed it (Polamalu's hair), it was the only thing I could get my hands on to grab him and pull him down," Johnson said. "It wasn't like I was trying to jerk him around after the tackle. My hand was just stuck and full of his hair."

Johnson's tackle of Polamalu will become a permanent highlight-reel play, but it was the Steelers who enjoyed most of the highlights on Sunday.

Roethlisberger, who entered the campaign with a 27-4 record, including playoffs, before losing his first three games this season, was nearly flawless, completing 13-of-15 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He was 3-of-4 for 14 yards in the second half.

"We had been getting a lot of criticism which we probably deserved," said Roethlisberger, who had zero touchdown passes and seven interceptions in Pittsburgh's three losses. "The biggest thing is we went out and executed. Our receivers did a good job of getting open."

The youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at 23, Roethlisberger missing the season opener due to an emergency appendectomy. He was shut out in a loss at Jacksonville and also struggled in losses to Cincinnati and San Diego.

"I can't tell you the last time I lost three games in a row, so it's great to win again," Roethlisberger said.

And Roethlisberger did it against a team which had allowed a total of 52 points in its first four games.

"They (the critics) were all saying he (Roethlisberger) can't move around or throw that well, but he played awesome," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said.

Parker produced 109 yards on 21 carries and Davenport added 78 on 12 for Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Johnson, the reigning AFC rushing champion, was held to 26 yards on 15 carries. He scored on a two-yard run with six minutes left in the third quarter.

Damon Huard started his fourth straight game with Trent Green sidelined (concussion) and was 16-of-32 for 162 yards with an interception.

"They came out and before we knew it we were down a couple of touchdowns," Huard said. "They came to play in another gear than we did. Against a team 1-3, defending Super Bowl champs, having lost three in a row. They came out ready and we didn't match their intensity."

On the third play of the game Roethlisberger connected with rookie Santonio Holmes on a 50-yard pass after cornerback Ty Law slipped. Four plays later, Parker scored on a three-yard run just 4:15 into the game.

Roethlisberger hooked up with Nate Washington on a 47-yard touchdown with 50 seconds left in the first quarter to increase the lead to 14-0.

Parker scored on an eight-yard run with 9:31 remaining in the second quarter to cap a nine-play, 80-yard drive.

Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward with a 13-yard touchdown pass with 6:20 left in the second quarter and Jeff Reed kicked a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the first half.

"We got behind, we didn't tackle well and we didn't do anything on defense," Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said. "Offensively, we couldn't mount anything."

Davenport rushed for a one-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-goal play with 12:40 left in the fourth quarter.

Linebacker Rian Wallace completed the rout when he picked off a pass by rookie Brodie Croyle and returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 3:31 remaining.

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