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Steelers Don’t Need Touchdowns In Playoff Win Over Chiefs

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Touchdowns are overrated, as Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round on Chris Boswell’s six field goals.

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t need to score touchdowns in their Divisional Round matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, as they won 18-16 on Chris Boswell‘s six field goals. In a game that had to be moved into primetime due to inclement weather, both teams left it all on the field. The Steelers had already defeated the Chiefs early in the season, but this time the game was in Kansas City. With both teams playing at a higher level than they were at that time, it was destined to be a game that went down to the final minutes.

The gameplan for the Steelers was obvious, get the ball to Le’Veon Bell. In games this season and postseason when Bell gets 20 or more carries, the Steelers are 8-1. Le’Veon Bell continues to carry the load on the offense, especially in this game when he had 30 carries for 170 yards, passing his own franchise rushing record that he set just a week before.

The offensive line knew they had a tall task in this matchup, but they stepped up and passed the challenge much like they have all year. They dominated the line of scrimmage unlike any other performance they have had all season. They allowed just two pressures on 32 passing plays, with Ramon Foster, Alejandro Villanueva, and Marcus Gilbert not allowing a single pressure all game. The even more impressive statistic is the fact that they opened up massive holes for Le’Veon Bell, as he gained 81 yards before contact.

With the offensive line dominating the way they did, they gave Ben Roethlisberger plenty of time to distribute the ball efficiently. Roethlisberger finished the day without any touchdowns, but he executed a very conservative gameplan with his only mistake coming on an incredible interception by All-Pro safety Eric Berry. Roethlisberger was able to find his favorite target Antonio Brown a lot as he went for 108 yards on 6 receptions, including the catch that gave the Steelers their final first down that put the game on ice. Roethlisberger commented on that final play after the game.

“We called a play to get some crossing stuff. I was able to get out of the line. They did a good job getting me out of the pocket, so just try to keep the play alive. I knew AB [Antonio Brown] was coming across the field and I think [Justin] Houston dropped under AB and AB went behind him. Really it was about letting him clear and just putting the ball on him and just let him make the play.”

The Steelers defense has stepped up during this winning streak, and has been able to label themselves as one of the elite defense in the NFL. The Steelers defense has recorded a turnover in twelve consecutive games, including twelve interceptions during that span. Ryan Shazier has been all over the field this season, and he didn’t stop on Sunday as he recorded five tackles and had an interception. Three linebackers were in the top five in Steelers‘ defensive grades on Pro Football Focus as Ryan Shazier received an 82.5, Bud Dupree with 78.1, and James Harrison with 75.9.

The linebackers weren’t the only ones getting in on the action on Sunday. The defensive rookies had a huge day as well. On the Chiefs first drive, Artie Burns made a critical mistake and allowed Albert Wilson get behind him for a short touchdown. But after that, Burns was exceptional as he held Tyreek Hill to 27 yards and he received a grade of 80 on Pro Football Focus. Safety Sean Davis also played incredibly well and received a 73.6 grade. His only mistake of the game came on a penalty that gave the Chiefs a first down on the final drive, but he made up for it by breaking up the two-point conversion that helped the Steelers maintain the lead.

With all of the Steelers players executing the gameplan, the one player that can’t be overlooked is Chris Boswell. For the second time this year, he was a perfect six-for-six on field goals. He is now being considered the fourth “Killer B” for the Steelers offense, but lets not forget that we were ahead of the game on that one. Chris Boswell was extremely humble about the performance, preaching a team first mentality.

“Luckily, it made enough to win the game, where we had enough chances to win the game. I don’t really pay attention to much besides looking at him when he tells me when to kick and when not to kick, and I just go about the game.”

The fact that the Steelers didn’t have to score any touchdowns to win a road playoff game, speaks to the level that the defense is playing at right now. They will need to continue to play at a high level, force turnover, and the offense will absolutely have to score touchdowns if they want any chance at knocking off the heavily favored New England Patriots.

Statistics and quotes referenced via Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.