4 takeaways from Chiefs’ playoff win over Steelers

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A lopsided final score in their wild-card weekend showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers was just what the doctor ordered for the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of their looming matchup against the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round. Momentum is building for the Chiefs, and after winning their last two games without sustaining any significant injuries, it looks like Kansas City has a full head of steam ahead of the most crucial games of their season.

Sunday’s win was a resounding success in their effort to clinch a third-straight Super Bowl berth, and just two more games stand between the Chiefs and an opportunity to win a second championship in three years. Pittsburgh was by no means a cupcake opponent, and Kansas City’s ability to dispatch them without breaking a sweat is a sign that their best football could be in store in the coming weeks.

Here are our four key takeaways from the wild-card win:

Pass-first offensive attack kept Steelers reeling

AP Photo/Travis Heying

In a game where they only ran the ball 22 times between six different ball-carriers, the Chiefs proved that Mahomes and his stellar abilities remain the most potent threat in the NFL. The lone blemish in his wild-card stat line was an interception on a tipped pass in the first quarter that wasn’t as consequential as it seemed immediately after it happened.

Mahomes managed to score all five of his passing touchdowns in an 11-minute and 31-second stretch of game time between the second and third quarter. Though they never trailed by more than seven points, the white-hot passing game ensured that the result wouldn’t be close. The team was so secure in their execution that TE Travis Kelce ended up with a touchdown pass as a cherry on top of the resounding win.

Despite lack of an interception, secondary kept Ben Roethlisberger honest

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Several dropped interceptions by players in the Chiefs’ secondary were the only thing that kept this game within three scores. Had Roethlisberger been picked off on any of his errant passes, his NFL swan song would’ve gone down as one of the worst in the league’s history. Kansas City’s corners and safeties held Big Ben to just 215-yards and two touchdowns in a game where he threw the ball 44 times, but only once for a gain of more than 20 yards.

The swarming secondary has been up-and-down this season and a big performance like the one they managed against Pittsburgh will be necessary to beat Buffalo next week on their path to Super Bowl LVI. If guys like L’Jarius Sneed, Charvarius Ward, and Tyrann Mathieu can convert on more opportunities to get takeaways in the divisional round, they should waltz to the AFC championship game with ease.

Jerick McKinnon shines as Chiefs' newest star

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Though Travis Kelce and Nick Allegretti both made their presence felt in unique ways given their positions at tight end and guard, Jerick McKinnon was the most dynamic player on the Chiefs’ offense against the Steelers, recording more than 140 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. When Clyde Edwards-Helaire was ruled out and Darrel Williams missed practice earlier in the week, it became clear that McKinnon would need to play a big role if Kansas City intended to be dynamic on offense.

Luckily for the Chiefs and their fans, McKinnon came out swinging on Sunday, providing all the spark his team needed to come out on top and keep their season alive. Andy Reid and the coaching staff will be hard-pressed in deciding who the lead back will be for the remainder of the playoffs when Edwards-Helaire returns. This performance very well may have tipped the scales in McKinnon’s favor in a head-to-head with any other player on the team’s depth chart.

Lockdown run defense strangles Steelers in dominant performance

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Najee Harris was one of Pittsburgh’s brightest stars as a rookie, starting at running back all season, racking up 1200 yards and seven touchdowns. None of that promise was on display against the Chiefs, as he was held to less than 30-yards on 12 carries and surrendered his only fumble of the season after a 2021 regular season campaign where he didn’t cough the ball up in any of his 381 carries.

It wasn’t so much that Harris looked bad as much as Kansas City’s run defense was rock-solid throughout. Linemen swarmed to the ball all game and the forced fumble by Willie Gay Jr. proved that the Chiefs can batten down the hatches when faced with an opponent that isn’t on their level. After Buffalo ran roughshod over the Patriots on Saturday, Kansas City will need another solid performance in stopping the run next week to throw water on the Bills’ recent hot streak.

1

1