Steelers have Chiefs' number

By Steve Sell
January 16, 2017

The Kansas City Chiefs invented a new way to lose a playoff game on Sunday.

I didn’t see a stat anywhere, but I wonder how many times a team has won a playoff game without scoring a touchdown?

The Chiefs won the touchdown battle 2-0, but lost the field goal war 6-1 and the result was an 18-16 semifinal loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who continued their mastery of this series as they are Kansas City’s kryptonite.

For the closeness of the score, it actually was a Steelers domination. All that kept this from being a double-digit game was the ability of the Chiefs’ defense to bend and not break.

This game was won in the trenches. The Chiefs’ inability to block Pittsburgh’s aggressive front four caused quarterback Alex Smith to be under siege all night. And Kansas City put little pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, not to mention being unable to control shifty Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who stopped and started for 170 yards.

This was such a strange game. The Chiefs started and finished it with impressive touchdown drives, but between the bookends there was a raft of dropped passes, silly penalties and little running game as coach Andy Reid basically gave up on it after the first quarter.

It seemed like Pittsburgh had the ball nearly the entire game. The Chiefs’ defense couldn’t get off the field despite the Steelers’ allergic reaction to the end zone.

So here it is, another Chiefs season without a Super Bowl appearance. Considering the talent level and injuries to key defensive players Derrick Johnson, Jaye Howard and Allen Bailey, they probably went farther than they deserved.

Moving forward, it’s obvious the Chiefs have to upgrade the offensive side of the ball. The line was exposed, as it relies more on technique than physicality. Look for Kansas City to use its first draft pick on a lineman or go hard after the top available lineman in free agency.

As for the skill positions, the Chiefs are committed to Smith at quarterback. I think he gets a somewhat of a bad rap because he’s doing what the team wants him to do — manage games and not be like Aaron Rodgers and win them on his own. What the Chiefs do with Jamaal Charles next year is anyone’s guess, but I’d imagine he’ll be elsewhere if he doesn’t retire. Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West are serviceable, but not explosive.

The receivers are similar to the backs. I’d like to see Chris Conley get more involved as it seems like his talent is being wasted. He’s big, strong and fast and I can’t figure out why he’s not implemented more.

Travis Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the game once he gets past all the bonehead penalties he incurs.

Tyreek Hill had a monster rookie year, but you can bet teams are going to adjust to him next year. Reid is going to have to be creative to put him in positions to be successful.

The Chiefs have far bigger questions on defense. Johnson’s future is in doubt after his second major injury and Father Time has caught up with him. The D-line needs for Howard and Bailey to come back strong.

Tamba Hali is on his last legs, so help at linebacker is needed. A clean year of health for Justin Houston is essential as well. The secondary is a notch below average as Marcus Peters and Eric Berry need some help.

I waited 29 years for the Royals to make the World Series again when I thought it wouldn’t happen. I’ve been waiting 47 years for the Chiefs to get back to the Super Bowl again in my lifetime. While I have many good years left, the clock is definitely far past the halfway point.