Chiefs Dismantle Steelers

Pringle Mahomes

Sunday night’s game started as many of the Chiefs games this year have started; SLOW! In fact, nothing of real consequence happened until about the ten-minute mark of the 2nd quarter when Cameron Heyward forced a fumble and TJ Watt picked up and ran 26 yards for a Steelers defensive touchdown. It was the first touchdown of the game. Pp until that point, the game had been a massive defensive wrestling match. Patrick Mahomes and the offense struggled to get into rhythm. The Steelers defensive touchdown must have awoken something within the Chiefs. In the last five minutes and 50 seconds of the first half, the Chiefs put up 21 points, closing out the 2nd quarter with an 80-yard 6 play touchdown drive. In the second half, the Chiefs scored touchdowns on their next three possessions. That’s the synopsis. That’s the game in a nutshell. Or is it?

I thought the Steelers had a shot in this game. Defensively, they showed that they could shut Mahomes down. The Steelers defense, headlined by all pro defensive tackle Heyward and edge rusher Watt, forced three punts, an interception, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. This was the Chief’s first five offensive possessions of the game. Most teams would wilt under that immense pressure. The Chiefs are not most teams.

The Steelers could have capitalized on their defense’s success. Ben Roethlisberger was throwing the ball where it needed to be thrown. However, his receivers failed to come down with the ball. The speedy, shifty Diontae Johnson was targeted 10 times and collected only 5 receptions. The rest were drops. JuJu Smith-Schuster dropped three out of eight targets. Chase Claypool dropped another four balls. This is unacceptable play, especially when a future hall of famer is throwing you the ball.

It took a while for the Chief’s offense to begin capitalizing on their defense’s seeming success. Let’s be honest. The Steelers spent most of the game shooting themselves in the foot offensively. Many Chief’s fans will not care for that take but it’s the honest truth. The Chiefs defense played reasonably well. Yet, once Big Ben started making connections with his receivers, the Steelers started scoring points; 21 to be exact. Still, the Chiefs main key to defensive success was holding the Steelers to 56 yards rushing. Without balance, the Steelers became predictable. They lacked consistent execution in the pass game leading to their ultimate demise. The score should have been much closer.

Once Mahomes finally started rolling, he had a statistical night for the record books. He threw for over 400 yards and five touchdowns. Those touchdowns went to five different receivers. In fact, Mahomes connected with 8 receivers that night including offensive lineman Nick Allegretti for a touchdown! The MVP of the offense was the unheralded Jerick McKinnon with 61 yards rushing and 81 yards receiving along with a touchdown reception. He touched the ball 18 total times. Travis Kelce posted a 100-yard night and a touchdown reception. Kansas State Alum Byron Pringle caught several key first down conversions along with two touchdown receptions. Travis Kelce stood in the shotgun and found Pringle for his second touchdown reception of the evening.

Now the Chiefs will host Buffalo for an epic playoff rematch. Buffalo scored a touchdown on all seven possessions of their game Saturday Night. Significantly, Buffalo manhandled a top five defense in the NFL. The Patriots could not slow them down. The Chief’s defense won’t either. The only way the Chiefs have a shot at defeating the Bills is to score every possession they have the ball. However, if it takes five possessions for the Chiefs to get rolling, the game may be over before the Chiefs get started. Buffalo may finally get their playoff revenge.

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