Despite not making it into the end zone a single time, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in divisional play by a final score of 18-16.
Special teams efforts ended up being key for the Steelers. It was clear early in the game that Pittsburgh was well-prepared for Kansas City’s dynamic return man, Tyreek Hill. The Steelers swarmed him on every return, trying to limit the productivity of a player who scored three return touchdowns during the regular season.
That wasn’t the end of the special teams heroics from the Steelers. Kicker Chris Boswell scored all of Pittsburgh’s points, knocking six field goals through the uprights. The sixth, which came in the fourth quarter, broke the single-game postseason record of five, which had been accomplished 11 times in NFL history.
Not surprisingly, both defenses were also a factor. With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown on Pittsburgh’s roster, that’s no small feat for the Chiefs. Meanwhile, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepted his fourth pass in as many weeks, thanks to some pressure his teammate Bud Dupree put on Alex Smith.
Not to be outdone, the Chiefs answered with an interception of their own. Linebacker Frank Zombo tipped a Ben Roethlisberger pass high into the air, giving safety Eric Berry a shot at a diving interception in the end zone for a touchback.
Despite the fact that the Chiefs’ defense kept the Steelers out of the end zone, Bell was extraordinary. He had 170 rushing yards and looked impossible to stop. Brown finished the game with 108 yards. Still, the Chiefs’ defense kept both players, and the rest of the Steelers’ offense, out of the end zone.
The Chiefs were trailing 18-10 well into the fourth quarter, and they very nearly tied it up with just over two minutes remaining. After a one-yard touchdown run by Spencer Ware to narrow Pittsburgh’s lead to 18-16, the Chiefs successfully attempted a two-point conversion on an Alex Smith pass to Demetrius Harris.
The only problem was an egregious hold by Kansas City’s Eric Fisher that negated the attempt and pushed the Chiefs back to the 12-yard line.
Smith’s second two-point attempt to Jeremy Maclin was broken up, and the Chiefs trailed 18-16.
The Steelers were able to take possession, and after getting a first down on a seven-yard pass to Brown, Pittsburgh kneeled it out for the 18-16 win.
With this loss, the Chiefs become the sixth team in NFL history to hold an opponent to just field goals for an entire postseason game but still suffer a defeat.
Pittsburgh will face off against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.