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Chiefs dominate Steelers and send Ben Roethlisberger into an anticipated retirement

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes in the first half of a 42-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes in the first half of a 42-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC wild-card playoffs Sunday.
(Travis Heying / Associated Press)
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Patrick Mahomes threw for 404 yards and five touchdowns, Travis Kelce caught a touchdown pass and threw another one, and the Kansas City Chiefs sent Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger into his anticipated retirement with a 42-21 blowout of the Steelers in the wild-card round of the playoffs Sunday night.

Byron Pringle caught touchdown passes from both Mahomes and Kelce, and Jerick McKinnon and Tyreek Hill also reeled in scoring catches as the Chiefs (13-5) began their pursuit of a third straight AFC championship in fine style.

They scored on six straight possessions during the middle part of the game, shut down Roethlisberger and the rest of the Pittsburgh offense, and turned next Sunday night’s divisional-round game against Buffalo into appointment viewing.

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Matthew Stafford failed to win in three playoff starts with the Lions. In an NFC wild-card playoff game, he leads the Rams vs. Arizona in attempt to get that elusive postseason victory.

The Bills had a similarly easy time in their 47-17 victory over New England on Saturday. Buffalo and Kansas City met for the AFC title last season.

Roethlisberger, who admitted the Steelers (9-8-1) were “not a very good football team” this week, wasn’t very good in his own right. The 39-year-old quarterback was 29 of 44 for 215 yards with two meaningless TD passes late in the game, providing the coda to a career that includes six Pro Bowl trips and two Super Bowl wins.

Judging by the final score, you’d never guess the first quarter was all about defense: The Steelers ran 14 plays and went 12 yards while the Chiefs had more punt return yards (70) than they had from scrimmage (62).

Made sense that the first points would be scored on defense too.

After the Steelers punted for a fifth straight time, the Chiefs inexplicably had wide receiver Mecole Hardman take a snap rather than their four-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Darrel Williams bobbled the exchange, the ball bounced to T.J. Watt and the Steelers’ All-Pro pass rusher returned the fumble 24 yards for a touchdown.

The play must have awakened Mahomes, who earlier had thrown his first pick in six career home playoff games. Or maybe it just made Mahomes angry.

Deebo Samuel ran 26 yards for a touchdown after late interception by Dak Prescott to propel the San Francisco 49ers to victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

He responded by completing his next six passes, capping a 76-yard drive with a nifty underhand flick to McKinnon that tied the game. Then the brilliant young quarterback found Pringle in the corner of the end zone for a score, and he put an exclamation mark on the half by hitting Kelce with a 48-yard touchdown strike.

In the span of less than six minutes, Mahomes and the Chiefs had turned a seven-point deficit into a 21-7 lead.

It wasn’t quite the 23-0 halftime advantage the Chiefs had in their December blowout of the Steelers, but it sure felt that way. Roethlisberger was five of 14 for 24 yards in the first half and Pittsburgh had 55 yards total offense.

Not much of a retirement party if Roethlisberger indeed calls it quits.

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