He might not have the most exciting name in the world, let alone in this game, but the Pittsburgh Steelers had certainly better not overlook Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who has over the course of his career been able to take his game to another level when his teams have entered the single-elimination period.
While he has an overall 2-3 record in the postseason—including 1-1 with San Francisco and 1-2 with the Chiefs, the win coming last season—he has statistically been very good, so the defense should certainly not count upon being able to rattle him and force him into making mistakes.
Through five postseason games, Smith has completed 112 of 186 passes—over 60 percent—for 1309 yards, throwing 11 touchdowns versus just one interception for a quarterback rating just below 100. He has taken 13 sacks, but he has also added a rushing touchdown and has 198 rushing yards on 29 carries.
In his three postseason games with the Chiefs, he has completed 76 of 118 pass attempts, completing over 64 percent of his passes, for 814 yards and six touchdowns versus one interception, in addition to six sacks—two per game—and 128 rushing yards on 22 attempts.
Perhaps most notably, in his three games with the Chiefs, Kansas City is averaging more than 30 points scored per game, although that is, of course, a small sample size. In the Divisional Round against the Patriots last season, he had his worst playoff game, posting a 77.6 quarterback rating, throwing just one touchdown in a game in which they only scored 20 points.
This is the first time with the Chiefs that he has had the opportunity to start a postseason game at home, however, which is a factor that should not be discounted. That he has done as well as he has during three games on the road says something in itself, but players generally perform better at home than on the road.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was asked about how Smith has been able to kick into another gear in the postseason, and it seemed to be a question he was tired of answering, but he did suggest that it stems from the same things that he sees his quarterback do all season long.
“He does so many things for us”, Reid said, “and does it so well, and prepares so diligently for every opponent and then, he gets to now. That kind of stuff obviously pays off. He’s the first one in, and he’s the last one out and so on”.
Finally getting around the answering the question, Reid offered, “he has that success in the playoffs, I think, because everybody was watching it that time. You have all eyes on you, and then, they get to see what we see every day”. So basically his answer is that there is no difference. But, statistically, there is, at least heading into today. He does have an interception in four consecutive games heading into today.