I’ve stood on the age-old principle that field goals alone aren’t enough for a team to win a game, much less a playoff game and Pittsburgh Steelers placekicker Chris Boswell basically said ‘You’re wrong.’ Boswell basically countered that fact as his playoff-record six field goals was enough for the Steelers to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 18-16 in the AFC Divisional Round Playoff game.
Now, this isn’t anything new for Boswell as he also kicked 6 field goals in the 24-21 Steelers win at Cincinnati. But here’s the difference from that game: The Steelers still needed a touchdown to seal that game as QB Ben Roethlisberger connected with WR Eli Rogers for the team’s winning (and only) score. But here’s the obvious difference: The Steelers didn’t score a single TD in this game and frankly, that’s amazing. Usually, when they are unable to get the ball into the end zone, the Steelers are usually unable to win.
But not this time. Thanks to Boswell.
Now I’m not too thrilled at the Steelers offense, but I can’t get too mad at them, right? Because a win’s a win and they were still able to hold off a KC team that scored 2 touchdowns to the Steelers none. And KC took a 7-3 lead when they drove the ball directly down the Steelers throats on their first drive of the day. Quarterback Alex Smith found receiver Albert Wilson for a 5-yard scored to give them a 7-3 lead. Who would’ve imagined that this would-be KC’s only lead of the day?
The problem was, KC stopped scoring too. They basically had 7 points until halfway through the 3rd quarter. Apparently, the Steelers defense shook off that TD that they gave up in the first quarter and looked Steel-Curtain like. 39-year old LB James Harrison got to KKC QB Alex Smith for a sack and shut-down the running game with 3 tackles for loss. LB Ryan Shazier intercepted Smith for his 4th consecutive pick since the Christmas Day win vs. the Baltimore Ravens and when KC added another score late in the 4th quarter, it was only 3:29 left in the game, and they tried for the 2-point conversion and failed, it was basically too late as they eventually used all their timeouts and the Steelers got a first down and eventually closed out the rest of the game after taking a knee.
Thanks to Boswell.
Now I can give the Steelers offense for the other contributions that they made. They could get into FG range thanks to 6 successful drives that included runs by RB Le’Veon Bell, who by the way played in only his 2nd playoff game. There’s a reason why Bell was named Steelers MVP and there’s a reason why he will get NFL MVP votes: The kid is valuable to the Steelers and the NFL.
Last week in the Wild Card Round, Bell set the Steelers playoff-rushing record when he rushed for 167 yards. This week, he broke his own record as he rushed for 170 yards on 30 carries. He basically ran over, around and through the Chiefs. WR Antonio Brown also had a good game when he caught 6 passes for 108 yards and how about TE Jesse James? He caught 5 passes for a career-high 83 yards. He’s truly been ‘the man’ since starter LaDarius Green has missed the past 4 games due to being in the concussion protocol. Big Ben himself led those FG-kicking drives as he passed for 224 yards. His only true blemish was an end-zone interception that was intended for Brown, but instead fell into the hands of KC safety Eric Berry.
So, the rest of the team did contribute, but it was Boswell field goals of 22, 38, 36, 45, 43 and 48 that got it done. And let’s make it clear: The Steelers needed every one of them, especially after KC scored that second TD of the game. KC’s loss means that the last time they won a playoff game was 1993 when Joe Montana, Marcus Allen and KC beat Neil O’Donnell, Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson and the Steelers in a 27-24 OT thriller. Do the math, that streak now extends to 24 years.
Meanwhile, the Steelers will advance to their first AFC Championship Game since 2010 when they beat the NY Jets and lost in Super Bowl 45. The Steelers have won their 9th consecutive game since losing to the Dallas Cowboys in early November, giving them a 4-5 record. 3 months later, they’re a win from Super Bowl 51. And the only thing that stands in their way are the New England Patriots, who will host the Steelers next Sunday at 6:40 pm. Make no mistake, that’s a tall task for the Steelers who hope to exorcise their nightmares of losing to the Patriots in the 2001 and 2004 AFC Championship Games and they were at Heinz Field. This game will be at Gillette Stadium. They must be ready to play the game of their lives and I will say this: Unless the Steelers defense will be Steel-Curtain like again, they will need more than 6 Bowell field goals to beat the Big Bad Patriots. I know it, they know it and you know it.
But it doesn’t hurt to know you have a reliable kicker on your team, and that point was made in this game. It’s usually hard to beat KC at Arrowhead, but the Steelers got it done. Thanks to Boswell.
In other news: The Green Bay Packers held off the Cowboys in a 34-31 thriller that went down to the final seconds as K Mason Crosby’s game winning field goal put the Packers in the NFC Championship Game vs. the Atlanta Falcons. That game will begin at 3:20 next Sunday.
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