The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving on to the AFC Championship game after beating the Kansas City Chiefs 18-16 in the divisional round, and it’s time to look back and assess the play of the Black-and-Gold.
After every game there are players who could be labeled “Winners” and some who played poorly and could be dubbed “Losers”. So here’s what things look like after the big win.
What else needs to be said about the ‘Wizard of Boz’. His 6-for-6 outing equated to the only Steelers points (18) and, without his consistency, the Steelers wouldn’t be preparing for the New England Patriots, but packing their stuff for the off-season.
Despite not being able to hit paydirt, Le’Veon Bell continues to roll through the postseason like a warm knife through butter. Bell rushed for a ridiculous 170 yards on 30 carries for a whopping 5.7 yards per carry. The Steelers success and failure in their greatest challenges ahead will be based mainly on the performance of Bell. Todd Haley would be wise to keep feeding the Steelers’ bell cow.
Where to start...James Harrison continued his postseason-to-remember with a half sack and drawing the big holding flag in the fourth quarter. Ryan Shazier added yet another interception, while Sean Davis continues to make plays in the back half. Outside of the first and last drive for Kansas City, this Steelers’ defense was suffocating. Great performance, especially the tackling, but a new beast awaits in Tom Brady and company.
After the win, I couldn’t help but think about the stat which was crammed into my head repeatedly leading up to the Divisional round of the playoffs. Andy Reid is 19-2 coming off the bye week. Well, now he’s 19-3. And while some are frustrated with the team’s lack of offensive production, I give credit to Mike Tomlin and company for going into a hostile environment, bouncing back after a rough start and advancing in the playoffs. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win, and in the postseason, that’s the only thing that matters.
If this group doesn’t start getting more credit on the national stage, I might scream—but I doubt they care. This line paved the way for Bell’s 170 yards and barely allowed the likes of Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and company even to breathe on Ben Roethlisberger. The Chiefs were credited with 1 sack and 2 quarterback hits. This offensive line is clicking on all cylinders and the proof is in the pudding.
For as good as the Steelers’ offensive line played, the offense as a whole in the red zone was awful. The Steelers notched a big 0-for-4 in the red zone on Sunday night, and it’s laughable to think just how different this outcome might have been if just two of those Boswell field goals were turned into touchdowns. Nonetheless, I guess if the team can go 0-4 in the red zone, and still win, it speaks volumes about the team’s defense and offensive line.
...on to New England for all the AFC marbles.