Home Front end NFL playoff recap: KC Chiefs Pittsburgh Steelers 1/16/22

NFL playoff recap: KC Chiefs Pittsburgh Steelers 1/16/22

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The Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers traded seven combined punts in the first quarter of a game that began as a defensive struggle Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

A Steelers defensive touchdown in the second quarter finally woke the sleepwalking hosts.

After Steelers passer TJ Watt opened the scoring with a returned fumble for a touchdown, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed 13 of 16 passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns. And those were just his halftime stats.

The Chiefs held a 21-7 halftime advantage before securing an easy 42-21 victory. The Chiefs, who beat the Steelers 36-10 in Week 16, advanced to the AFC Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.

“I’m proud of our players, our coaches for the job they’ve done,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We understand it’s the first step, but it was the most important game today and that’s how the guys handled it.”

Kansas City put in a full performance in all three phases of the game. Offensively, Mahomes separated the Steelers secondary with 30 completions on 39 attempts for 404 yards and five touchdowns. Those stats, coupled with one interception, gave him a passer rating of 138.3.

The superstar quarterback’s assists went to running back Jerick McKinnon, wide receiver Byron Pringle, tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and backup offensive lineman Nick Allegretti, who scored on a fixed play inside the Steelers 1-yard line.

Mahomes’ 404 passing yards set a new single-game franchise record for the Chiefs, surpassing the 378 Alex Smith had against the Indianapolis Colts on January 4, 2014.

McKinnon also had a big night, pacing the Chiefs’ rushing offense with 61 yards on 12 carries and adding six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.

Kelce recorded five catches for 108 yards, his seventh 100-yard game in the playoffs. Only Pro Football of Famer Jerry Rice (8) had more. Kelce also threw a touchdown pass to Pringle, who finished with two touchdowns, a repeat of his Week 16 performance against the Steelers.

“He’s a great player,” Reid said of Kelce. “It’s just a matter of giving him the football and he’ll do his thing.”

The Chiefs’ offense generated 478 total yards and overwhelmed the Steelers in a 35-7 flurry to put the game out of reach in the third quarter.

Defensively, the Chiefs held the Steelers to 257 total yards and 14 offensive points. The Steelers were forced to throw the ball seven times on Sunday night and converted just seven of 16 third attempts. The Chiefs’ run defense, a concern entering the playoffs, was also put down, allowing just 56 yards on 20 carries.

“I think our defense has been terrific,” Reid said. “I thought we were aggressive at the back, we were aggressive up front. The linebackers did a great job of tackling, so in terms of the scheme, Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) came up with a great game plan and the guys executed it, the coaches coached it. It was a good look.

On special teams, Mecole Hardman totaled 70 yards on three punt returns. Pringle had two kickoff returns for 50 yards.

The Chiefs needed this kind of performance to prepare for their next game. Sunday’s result sets up another Sunday showdown next weekend, this time against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Divisional Round at Arrowhead. Kick-off is set for 5:30 p.m.

“Now we’re gearing up for a good Buffalo team coming here,” Reid said. “I know Arrowhead is going to be buzzing here and we’ll have a good week of preparation and preparation too.”

McKINNON UP

If there was an X factor in this game, McKinnon qualifies.

The Chiefs were bumped at running back. First, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was inactive with a shoulder injury, then Darrel Williams’ toe injury limited him to training last week.

It opened the door for McKinnon to take all the first-team reps in practice, and it carried over into the game when he trotted with the starters on the Chiefs’ first possession.

“He gives you all kinds of confidence just by the way he carries himself,” Reid said.

The Chiefs let him go. In the end, McKinnon had 142 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh. He made most of the big efforts in the first half, gaining 40 yards on six carries and 58 yards and a touchdown on five catches.

“He can catch the football, he can run it, he has good vision,” Reid said. “It was good to bring him in.”

WILDCAT GONE WRONG

The Chiefs are creative on offense – maybe, at times, a little too much for their own good.

As the Chiefs faced a first-and-10 on their own 31-yard line, Hardman took the snap in a Wildcat formation … then fumbled the rally with running back Darrel Williams, who recovered the ball and then l groped himself. when he was coached by Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward.

Steelers passing thrower TJ Watt was in position for a 26-yard touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 7-0 lead.

The Chiefs of course got rid of that and eventually blew up the Steelers. But why call it playing there to begin with? Reid said after the game that nothing needed to be said to the team after the comedy of errors.

“They went for it,” Reid said. “No one lowered their head; they just said, ‘Let’s go, let’s expand a bit here.’ And that’s what they ended up doing.

The Chiefs then beat the Steelers 42-14 after the game.

IF THIS IS GOODBYE

Roethlisberger hinted at retirement. If Sunday’s game was his last, he will leave with a bad taste in his mouth.

Big Ben completed just five of 14 passes for 24 yards in the first half. He finished with 215 passing yards and two touchdowns, most with the Steelers in catch-up mode in the second half.

It might be the Chiefs defense, but Roethlisberger hasn’t played his best football in two games at Arrowhead over the past month. On Dec. 26 here, the Pittsburgh quarterback passed for just 159 yards.

The two-time Super Bowl champion will eventually have a bronze statue in the Hall of Fame. But he will want to forget this one.

Whatever his decision, the Chiefs wished him well after Sunday night’s game.

“It was an honor to coach against Ben in his last game,” Reid said. ” I’m happy for him. He’s a two-time champion, future Hall of Famer, and he’s not doing a great job in this league representing this league.

Mahomes agreed.

“He’s a guy I’ve watched grow up,” he said. “I have huge respect for him and that’s what I told him, if it’s his last game he did it the right way. Everyone knows that and showed a ton of respect leaving.

INJURIES

Nothing to report.

INACTIVE

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder), wide receiver Josh Gordon, cornerback Rashad Fenton (back), tackle Prince Tega Wanogho, running back Darwin Thompson, rookie defensive end Joshua Kaindoh and quarterback back Shane Buechele.

FOLLOWING

The Chiefs will host the Buffalo Bills next Sunday, January 23, at Arrowhead Stadium. The Bills beat the Chiefs 38-20 in Week 5 of the regular season.

Next Sunday’s divisional round game kicks off at 5:30 p.m.

This story was originally published January 16, 2022 10:27 p.m.

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