PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers gave the Kansas City Chiefs and the rest of the NFL a not very subtle reminder that Super Bowls aren’t won, or lost, in the first few weeks of a season.

The Steelers revived everything they displayed in winning the championship as Ben Roethlisberger threw his first two touchdown passes since the AFC championship game in a 45-7 rout of the Chiefs on Sunday.

Despite being without three injured regulars – one of whom, guard Kendall Simmons, fell asleep with an ice pack on his leg and sustained frostbite – the Steelers never resembled the team that could barely gain a first down in a 9-0 loss to Jacksonville, or ran only 18 plays in the second half of last week’s 23-13 loss at San Diego.

Maybe it was watching AFC North leaders Baltimore (4-2) and Cincinnati (3-2) lose earlier in the afternoon, tightening up a division race they appeared to be falling out. But the Steelers (2-3) played with the confidence and composure they lacked while losing three in a row.

Roethlisberger was among the NFL’s lowest-rated quarterbacks with no touchdown passes and seven interceptions until Sunday, while Kansas City’s Damon Huard was among the highest rated. It changed in a momentum-shifting few hours in which Roethlisberger could again do little wrong and Huard, a longtime backup, could do little right while completing only 16 of 32 passes for 162 yards and an interception.

Roethlisberger had no touchdown passes and nine interceptions in his last four starts, counting the Super Bowl. Questions were raised if he was fully healed from his violent June motorcycle crash and his appendectomy last month.

But he was as sharp and polished as in the playoffs, going 16-of-19 for 238 yards and TDs of 47 yards to Nate Washington and 13 yards to Hines Ward. He constantly exploited the Chiefs’ not-too-successful man coverage.

He got the Steelers going by doing exactly that on the third play of the game, hitting rookie Santonio Holmes for 50 yards after defender Ty Law slipped. Holmes would have scored if he hadn’t fallen in the open field, but Willie Parker scored several plays later from the 3.

Roethlisberger found Washington for his first touchdown throw on Pittsburgh’s next possession, and the Chiefs (2-3) couldn’t come back from this 14-0 deficit like they did last week in rallying to beat Arizona 23-20. Not with Parker repeatedly finding the big holes and running lanes that last year’s NFL rushing champion, Larry Johnson, couldn’t locate as Parker gained 109 yards.

Johnson had his second ineffective game in a row, following a 36-yard effort against Arizona with 26 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. Johnson stood out only once, in the unaccustomed role of tackler.

He ran down All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu on a 49-yard interception return in the third quarter by grabbing him by the hair the flows halfway down Polamalu’s back. Johnson whipped Polamalu to the ground along the Chiefs’ bench, touching off a brief skirmish.

Johnson, whose neck was injured last week by Arizona defensive back Antrel Rolle’s horsecollar tackle, drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The Steelers have never started 1-4 since coach Bill Cowher was hired in 1992.

AP-ES-10-15-06 1928EDT


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