The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they played the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.
Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game...
Stat Line: 3 tackles, 3 solo, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 3 QB hits, 1 pass defense, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD
What else is there to be said about T.J. Watt which hasn’t been said already? If there was any doubt Watt should be the Defensive Player of the Year, what else did you need to see? Whether it was Watt’s scoop and score touchdown, or his first postseason sack, Watt has proven his worth time and time again. A tremendous season for Watt, and he made the Steelers look smart for signing him to that new deal this offseason.
Stat Line: 5 receptions, 26 yards, 5.2 average, 0 TD, 7 yard long, 8 targets
JuJu’s stat line doesn’t scream “winner” but the way he battled his way back to even being an option heading into the postseason was winner worthy, in my opinion. Some wondered why Smith-Schuster would risk injury before becoming a free agent this offseason, and that tells you all you need to know about Smith-Schuster.
Stat Line: 29/44, 215 yards, 4.9 average, 2 TD, 0 INT, 2 sacks, 92.5 Rating
The Steelers’ offense was awful vs. the Chiefs, but Roethlisberger wasn’t the main reason why. Roethlisberger’s stat line wasn’t crazy, but it was good to see him move into 3rd all time in postseason passing yards in NFL history. The Steelers now enter an offseason without Roethlisberger at the helm for the first time since 2004. Talk about walking into the unknown.
Pressley Harvin III
Stat Line: 7 total punts, 49.7 yard average, 56 yard long, 1 inside the 20
No one has been harder on Steelers punters than me, and I was skeptical, at best, when the team released Corliss Waitman prior to the playoff game. Nonetheless, on a night when Harvin was called on to punt seven times, he represented himself well. The coverage is another story, but Harvin did a good job punting the ball, and after all he’s been through this season it was good to see him step up.
Stat Line: 5 receptions, 34 yards, 6.8 average, 1 TD, 13 long, 10 targets, 2 drops
I don’t know what to say about Johnson after this playoff game. The drops continued to creep up, another pre-snap penalty with a false start and plenty of miscommunication between the quarterback and Johnson were just the tip of the iceberg. There have been times when Johnson looks like a WR1 on the depth chart, but on Sunday night he looked like someone who would be on the bottom of the depth chart looking up. For Johnson’s future, consistency is key. If he can prove he is capable of being a more consistent player he will be able to solidify his spot on the roster.
3rd and short deep plays
Stat Line: Not sure the thinking...
For a second during the game, it looked as if Todd Haley had returned to calling the plays for the Steelers. The 3rd and short deep passes were a regular with the offense vs. the Chiefs, but they never panned out on Sunday night. When the offense was doing their job and getting into manageable down and distances, these plays seemed more than head-scratching.
Stat Line: Mahomes - 30/39, 404 yards, 10.4 average, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 3 sacks, 138.3 Rating
It is hard to blame the defense for much when the offense’s ineptitude is on display, but the defensive secondary got carved up by Patrick Mahomes. To be fair, Mahomes does this to a lot of teams, but after keeping the Chiefs’ offense off the board in the first quarter, it looked like they might have an answer for the big red machine. They didn’t.
1st Half Offense
Stat Line: 0 points, only two first downs
If you woke up from a coma and didn’t see the game, you might look at the box score and say, “The score was 21-7 at halftime, they scored a touchdown.” You’d be right, they did score a touchdown, but it wasn’t an offensive touchdown. That was a scoop-and-score touchdown by T.J. Watt after Cam Heyward forced a fumble. The Steelers’ offense had started slow before, but nothing like this. Kudos to the Chiefs, but the Steelers seemed to try everything, but to no avail.
3rd Down Defense
Stat Line: KC 8-for-12
If there was one area where the Steelers’ defense really struggled it was on third downs. The Chiefs completed a multitude of 3rd and long situations, including a 3rd and 20 conversion. Those are plays which should never be completed, and yet the Steelers’ defense made a night of it. Getting off the field is at a premium in the playoffs, and the Pittsburgh defense didn’t do nearly enough in this regard.
Stat Line: KC almost doubled PIT total yardage
The Steelers offense was bad on Sunday night. How bad? How about the Chiefs almost doubled their total yardage on the night. On top of that, they both shared the ball for exactly 30 minutes a piece. That just shows you how dominant the Chiefs’ offense was when they had possession of the football.
If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!