Steelers could rise to the occasion against the Chiefs in the playoffs
After the Steelers’ performance against the Chiefs earlier this season, one might suspect the Steelers only have a slim chance to win Sunday night.
The Steelers lost handily to the Chiefs in week 17, 36-10, their worst performance this season by far. On the other hand, Kansas City had a slow start but finished by winning nine of their last ten. In that stretch, they outscored opponents by a score of 292-161. The outcome seems stacked against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh has not had stellar performances against the Chiefs, particularly in the playoffs. This game will only be their third-ever playoff meeting. Of the previous two meetings, both have been at Arrowhead stadium. The first was in 1994 they lost 27-24 to the Joe Montana-led chiefs in overtime. The second meeting came in 2017; however, Pittsburgh won that meeting 18-16.
If you expand that to all AFC West teams, the Steelers’ record is 8-11 since 1973. If you only look at playoff road games, they are 4-8. Again not a promising outlook for Pittsburgh. However, the Steelers faced odds just as long and in a similar situation.
In 2005 Jerome Bettis announced he would retire at the end of the season. In conjunction, the Steelers, while finishing with an 11-5 record, only managed the 6th seed because they lost the tiebreaker to the Bengals, who finished 11-5. The Colts, Jaguars, and Denver all finished with better records too. Once in the playoffs, though, the black and gold rose to the occasion.
In 2005 the seeding against the Bengals was better for the Steelers than their draw of Kansas City this year. However, in round two, they faced the Colts. Pittsburgh nearly had a monumental meltdown late in the game, though. Jerome Bettis had an uncharacteristic fumble while trying to punch it into the endzone late in the 4th quarter to secure the win. The Colts recovered the fumble and nearly ran it back for a touchdown to steal the lead.
Had it not been for one of the most miraculous shoestring tackles of all time. By sheer luck, Roethlisberger managed to grab Nick Harper’s shoe, tripping him up saving the touchdown. Then with a great defensive stand, the Steelers forced Mike Vanderjagt to attempt a 46-yard field goal which he shanked wide right, thus allowing the Steelers to hold on and make the trip to Denver for the AFC Championship game.
Pittsburgh then played another heroic game in Denver and finally went on to steamroll the Seahawks in Superbowl XL. Straight up, the Steelers’ had a much better team in 2005 than the Steelers 2021 team. Of this, there is no doubt. That said, the Steelers wanted to get Jerome Bus to Detroit so they could get him that elusive Superbowl ring. They had to win three road games and one of them in a dramatic fashion.
There is no doubt, like in 2005, Pittsburgh wants to get a final ring for Big Ben as he heads to retirement. While they may not have had a great season in 2021, they still find themselves back in the playoffs. So while it is easy to discount a Steelers victory Sunday, they could surprise everyone, rise to the occasion, and knock off the Chiefs. So going out on a limb, look for the Steelers to win a shocker in Kansas City 28-27 on a Chris Boswell last-minute field goal.