Steelers beat Chiefs in field-goal fest, will play Pats

Steelers safety Sean Davis deflected Alex Smith's two-point conversion attempt, preserving Pittsburgh's 18-16 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Here's what we learned in Sunday's game:

  1. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown dominated early on, only to come up short in the red zone versus Kansas City's bend-but-don't-break defense. By the end of the third quarter, Bell had racked up more yards (161) than the entire Chiefs offense (150). Making defenders miss with his trademark suddenness, Bell joined former Broncos back Terrell Davis (1998 playoffs) as the only players with back-to-back games of at least 160 rushing yards in the postseason. Despite an impressive second-half adjustment by Bob Sutton's defense, Bell still managed to bypass Arian Foster (285) for the most rushing yards (337) in a player's first two playoff games. Authoring one of the greatest stretches we've ever witnessed by a running back, Bell has amassed 1,431 yards from scrimmage over the last eight games. He will remain the focal point of Pittsburgh's attack in next week's AFC Championship Game at New England.
  1. Not to be outdone, Brown joined Larry Fitzgerald as the only receivers with four straight 100-yard games in the postseason. Although Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters knocked an early touchdown out of Brown's hands, the elusive wideout came through with one of the game's biggest plays, getting open for a third-and-3 conversion that allowed the Steelers to assume victory formation just after the two-minute warning.
  1. Pittsburgh's unsung offensive line deserves a lion's share of the credit, opening holes for Bell and shutting down Kansas City's edge rushing trio of Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Tamba Hali. Rarely pressured throughout the game, Ben Roethlisberger wasn't hit until a third-down coverage sack forced a field goal with 10 minutes remaining.
  1. Nearly 39 years old, Steelers linebacker James Harrison was the dominant defensive force for the second consecutive game. Harrison recorded three tackles for loss, two QB hits and one sack, but his most crucial effort was forcing a holding penalty on left tackle Eric Fisher to nullify the game-tying two-point conversion with less than three minutes remaining. Harrison is now up to 11 career postseason sacks, tying for the fifth-most since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
  1. The object of season-long derision over missed extra points, the NFL's legion of kickers can walk proudly in the aftermath of Sunday's sterling feats. After Mason Crosby and Dan Bailey combined to drill three kicks over 50 yards in the final 98 seconds of the NFC's Divisional Round matchup, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell set a new single-game postseason record with six field goals. It's the second time this season Boswell has drilled a half-dozen field goals in one game.
  1. Andy Reid scripted a perfect six-play, 55-yard touchdown drive on the Chiefs' opening possession, only to watch his offense go in the tank for the next 40 minutes of game action. Kansas City was outgained by Bell alone over the next two and half quarters, managing fewer than 100 yards on the ensuing six series. The Steelers bottled up rookie sensation Tyreek Hill and frustrated Travis Kelce. The All-Pro tight end dropped a long pass in the red zone late in the third quarter and was whistled for a careless unnecessary roughness penalty on the next play. Unable to make plays downfield, Alex Smith's offense simply couldn't stand toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh's firepower.
  1. Although Peters and All-Pro safety Eric Berry made plays for a ballhawking secondary, the Chiefs defense needs to get stronger in the middle of the field next season. They finished the season 26th in run defense and 24th in total defense, counting on takeaways and red-zone efficiency to mask deficiencies. After two straight exits in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Reid still needs more playmakers to keep up with the AFC's superpowers. Getting Jeremy Maclin and Justin Houston fully healthy will certainly help.
  1. Don't sleep on Pittsburgh's improved defense. The Patriots boast the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense, but Keith Butler's troops have been just as stout in the second half of the season. Leading the league in sacks since Week 11, the Steelers are allowing just 16.5 points per game during their nine-game winning streak.
  1. For the 13th time in 14 years, the AFC will be represented by Roethlisberger, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.
This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content