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Analyzing the Steelers Week 16 loss to the Chiefs, by the numbers

The Steelers offense couldn’t get rolling and the defense couldn’t make stops until the game completely out of hand.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to put together a complete game this season. While they have only come on strong on one side of the ball or for only a half, putting it all together is what many hoped would happen to finish out the season. When the Steelers needed a complete performance the most as they had to travel to Kansas City to take on the number one seeded Chiefs, they gave a complete performance in the other direction where they didn’t put together anything throughout. It was a performance that left many wondering how this team has managed to win seven games this season.

So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers’ loss to the Chiefs.


In a game where the Steelers came in as a heavy underdogs, the one thing they couldn’t afford to do is to lose the turnover battle. Unfortunately, the Steelers managed to give the ball back to Chiefs three times while not forcing any takeaways themselves. Their -3 turnover margin was the worst since their Week 10 tie to the Detroit Lions.


Not only did the Steelers turn the ball over three times, they gave up 17 points off of those turnovers. While 17 points is bad, it could have been even worse as the Steelers lost a fumble which was returned to their 7-yard line, but quarterback Chad Henne came into relieve Patrick Mahomes and fumbled on the first two plays causing KC to settle for a field goal.


Not only did the Steelers turn the ball over three times, they only ran four total plays on those three drives. Two of the three drives the Steelers turned the ball over on the first play of the drive where the other was the second play of their first possession of the second half. So not only did the Steelers give the ball back to the Chiefs, they did it in a manner where their defense didn’t even get any substantial rest.


Although the Steelers have had success in general when traveling to Kansas City under head coach Mike Tomlin, the success has not come on the offensive side of the football. In fact, it has been 12 years since the Steelers scored more than 20 points in a game in Kansas City. The only game which eclipsed the 20-point mark was a 24–27 loss in overtime in 2009. Shockingly, the Steelers have managed to win three games in Kansas City despite not being able to score points.

2 for 19

If someone were to tell me that Travis Kelce would not play in this game and Tyreek Hill would only have two receptions for 19 yards, I would assume the Steelers were in the game and possibly even victorious. But even in the blowout victory, the Steelers held the dynamic Chiefs receiver in check for the majority of the game, although his contributions were not needed.


Although a lot has been made about the Steelers going five-straight games without scoring a touchdown in the first half, they have really struggled to put up enough points to put themselves in a good situation when playing on the road. In fact, the Steelers have now gone 10 consecutive road games where they have not held the lead at halftime. In those 10 games, the Steelers have been tied on one occasion when the score was 3–3 in Week 8 against the Cleveland Browns. The last time the Steelers held the lead at halftime on the road was in Week 11 of 2020 when they had a 17–3 advantage in Jacksonville over the Jaguars.


The Steelers uncharacteristically had a difficult time putting pressure on Patrick Mahomes on Sunday. Although the Steelers did get 2.0 sacks, they only had three total quarterback hits in the game. Additionally, on the Chiefs second touchdown of the game, Mahomes had more than seven seconds in the pocket to find an open receiver.


Despite handing the ball off 35 times, the Chiefs only rushed for a 3.6 yard average as they had 127 total rushing yards. Although the total doesn’t seem that impressive, it is the third lowest total in the Steelers’ last nine games. The only games in which the Steelers gave up less rushing yards since Week 6 is to the Cleveland Browns (96) and Baltimore Ravens (107).


For the first time since Week 8 against the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers out rushed their opponent. With a total of 130 rushing yards, the Steelers had 25 rushing attempts which came to a 5.2 yard average. What helped the Steelers move ahead of the Chiefs in rushing was a 17-yard scramble by Mason Rudolph late in the game.


In what is ultimately the only number that matters, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not get to add another number in the win column. Although I did not expect to win going into Kansas City, I did not expect such a poor performance in a blow-out game which was so bad the national CBS audience was transferred to another game to simply watch them take a knee to run out the final two minutes of the game.

So there are some numbers to try to help put the Steelers Week 16 loss to the Chiefs in perspective. The Steelers found themselves in a huge halftime deficit and they never made it closer than they were at that moment. As bad as the loss was, the Steelers are still in the hunt for the AFC North title and a possible postseason birth.

So what numbers from Sunday’s game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.