Posted on January 16, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Had you asked anyone before kickoff who the hero of the game was going to be when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs were done playing they would have said Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Travis Kelce, Alex Smith, Tyreek Hill, or Eric Berry. The one person they wouldn’t have said was Chris Boswell.
That is precisely who the hero of the game was for the Pittsburgh Steelers—their kicker.
That is not to say that the usual suspects didn’t have good games. Le’Veon Bell broke the single game rushing record he set the week before against Miami with 170 yards on 30 carries.
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“The coaches put a lot of trust in me to get the job done,” Bell said of his 30 carries after the game. “Just run hard. Just picked my spots where I could and run hard.”
Antonio Brown had six receptions on the night for 108-yards. Five of his receptions and most of his yards came in the first half. He didn’t have a catch in the second half until the final drive of the game—and it gave the Steelers the first down they needed to ice the game.
Ben Roethlisberger has not been playing dominant football of late, and he didn’t bring his “A” game Sunday night either (20-31 for 224 yards and an interception).
Pittsburgh’s usual playmakers played well enough to keep the ball moving against a talented Kansas City defense and outgained the Chiefs offense 275 yards to 106 yards. However, while the Chiefs defense did a lot of bending against the Steelers, they didn’t break.
The Steelers opening drive stalled at the Kansas City four-yard line resulting in a 22-yard field goal by Chris Boswell. Their second drive stalled at the 20-yard line forcing Boswell to attempt one from 38-yards out. On their next drive, they stalled at the Kansas City 18; Boswell kicked a 36-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh a 9-7 a few minutes into the second.
Boswell would add a 45-yard field goal before the end of the half to give the Steelers a 12-7 lead after two-quarters. He would add a 43-yard kick on the Steelers first drive of the second half to stretch the lead out to eight, 15-7.
Kansas City finally got a little offense going late in the third quarter and added a field goal of their own to close the gap to 15-10. The Steelers responded with another Boswell kick, this one from 43-yards to move the deficit back to eight points—and set a new postseason record for field goals made in a single game.
“It’s just about doing my job,” Boswell said after the game. “Coming out here, put it through the yellow pipes. Don’t really think too much. Don’t think like I’m the guy or anything. I’m just doing my job and doing my one-eleventh for the team.”
Up to this point in the game, the Steelers defense had done a great job against the Kansas City offense, but the trouble with field goals is they make it easier for the opposing team to mount a successful comeback attempt.
The Chiefs finally got the ball moving after Boswell sixth field goal. It took 13-plays including a fourth down conversion inside the five-yard line, and when Spencer Ware broke across the goal line, the crowd went wild. When Alex Smith successfully converted the two-point conversion to tie the game up at 18-18, the crowd really went nuts—but then Eric Fisher was flagged for holding, and they were forced to try it again.
And they missed. Final Score—Pittsburgh 18 Kansas City 16.
With the win, the Pittsburgh Steelers earned the right to travel to Foxboro next week to take on the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.