Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers can finally breathe normally again with the team squeaking out a win against the Chiefs. Chris Boswell, in what would become his 2nd MVP calibre performance of the year, saved the teams Superbowl hopes and dreams with an NFL record 6 playoff field goals. The defense had another excellent game and the special teams unit was on fire (mostly) that made up for an offense that was more bark than bite.
Looking at the stats alone (minus the scores), it would appear that the Steelers dominated the Chiefs, out gaining them 395 yards to 233. The offense continues to flow behind Le’Veon Bell, who accrued many of his 1st down carries on his 2nd effort. Antonio Brown and Jesse James both had very nice days, especially James, who continued to make plays in the middle of the field. Ben Roethlisberger played well enough, but again missed on several critical throws. The offensive line, to no surprise, continued to dominate.
The offensive performed well overall, however they were unable to punch the ball in, resulting in 6 Chris Boswell field goals. With the Chiefs possessing the 5th best red zone defense in the NFL, the difficulties were not unexpected. However, with as many opportunities as the Steelers had to score, its almost inexcusable that they didn’t. They need to figure out how to turn these field goals into touchdowns if they want to beat the Patriots, who also possess a top- 10 red zone defense.
The Steelers defense gave up 2 touchdowns, but were otherwise fantastic. Despite only having a single sack, the Steelers pass rushers were all over Alex Smith. The defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, forcing Smith to bail out of the pocket and throw the ball under duress. Ryan Shazier especially stood out. Besides his 4th straight interception, Shazier did an excellent job running sideline to sideline with Tyreek Hill, on one play forcing him out of bounds 2 yards short of the first down. The next play was a sack by James Harrison, stopping the drive.
The final unit, special teams, was considered by far to be the weakest unit coming into this game. Boy did they step up this week. Besides Boswell’s 6 (SIX!!) field goals, the kick coverage unit was superb. Vince Williams and Jordan Dangerfield were flying down the field, stuffing Tyreek Hill inside the 25 yard line on several occasions. Hill was kept in check all game, while Justin Gilbert and Sammie Coates failed to bring the ball past the 25 only once.
This game was a heart pounder, no doubt about that. With only one game separating this team from the Super Bowl, its time to get hyped. Winning against a Ben-less Steelers team back in week 7 means nothing for the New England Patriots. Look for both teams to improve on their performances this weekend to come together for an epic matchup next Sunday.