As Steelers Nation patiently waits for Sunday's Divisional Round playoff matchup between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, I wanted to go back and have a look at the last Divisional Round game the Steelers played. It was last January, on the road, against the Kansas City Chiefs and their hostile environment known as Arrowhead Stadium.
The game was full of excitement, anticipation, frustration, and everything in-between as the Steelers offense was unable to score a touchdown all evening.
Fans were already on edge, knowing that the team has had its struggles on the road throughout Mike Tomlin's tenure as head coach. (Yes that was still a thing in 2016.) Playing at Arrowhead Stadium, concerned everyone.
Then a storm system moved through the area and the game was moved to a primetime slot from a 1 pm scheduled kick. (Who can forget Antonio Brown's Facebook Live stream where Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said: "those a**holes got a head start?")
The game progressed, slowly. The Steelers continued their failure of scoring a touchdown, with each drive ending in a Chris Boswell field goal. Anxiety set in as Pittsburgh kept Kansas City in the game, right up until the end.
Boswell affectionately became known as the fourth "Killer B" in this game; a nickname bestowed upon Steelers star players Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell sharing a common initial. The kicker kicked, and kicked, and kicked his way into NFL history by booting a total of six field goals through the uprights: a postseason record.
The rest of the game was securely placed on the shoulders of the Steelers defense, who did their best to contain any threat of Alex Smith's offense from taking Pittsburgh out of the playoffs in much the same way Peyton Manning had during the same round a season earlier. Kansas City became the first team to score an opening-drive touchdown on Pittsburgh's defense all year. But the Steelers clamped down with Bud Dupree providing pressure, and Ryan Shazier picking off a pass in another consecutive game (video below).
Roethlisberger had a pass batted in the air, and taken away on the ensuring drive, keeping the Steelers out of the end zone and off of the scoreboard. The game remained close, but Pittsburgh's defense forced another turnover, this time scooping up a fumble by Chiefs RB Charchandrick West. Chris Boswell would kick his record sixth field goal of the evening, putting the Steelers up eight points.
The defense then sputtered, allowing the Chiefs to score a touchdown: all that Kansas City had to do was execute a two-point conversion and the game would be tied.
The Steelers would get the ball back with 2:38 left on the clock, and masterfully move the ball enough yards to keep it ticking. A clutch Antonio Brown third down catch secured the team's first AFC Championship appearance since the 2010 season.
Plays of the Game
The Steelers were clutching to a two-point in the second quarter and were in need of a big defensive play... when they got one from a pair of their young stars, Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier.
Dupree comes off of the edge to hit Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith as he attempts to throw a pass. The lame duck throw sends the ball skyward, as Shazier makes the centerfield catch for the interception.