Over the course of his impressive coaching career, longtime head coach Andy Reid has become known for three things: his mustache and girth, the fact that he never managed to win the Super Bowl, and the fact that he has posted an extraordinary record coming off of bye weeks, going 16-2 during the regular season and 3-0 during the postseason entering last night’s game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers just handed Reid his first postseason loss following a first-round bye, the first time in five seasons with the Chiefs that his team was able to earn one of the top two seeds in order to skip the Wildcard Round.
It wasn’t exactly easy, and it was a competitive game right until the final two minutes—or actually a bit less than that—but the Steelers dethroned the coach who had the best record in NFL history coming off a bye, entering last night’s game with a combined .905 winning percentage between the regular season and the postseason.
Some may no doubt have already thought by now to point out that one of Reid’s teams in the past, back in Philadelphia, managed to reach the Super Bowl, and lost, and that the Super Bowl teams get a week off between the Conference Championship round and the Super Bowl. But that is not considered a bye week, as both teams are given the same time off.
While there are the occasional instances in which two teams who are both coming off their bye week in the regular season might face each other in their next game, the general idea of the first game after the bye week is that the team coming off the bye has an extra week not just to prepare, but to get healthy.
The Chiefs certainly used that extra week off to their advantage in terms of getting healthy, as they had all healthy scratches for last night’s game, while the Steelers had four players on the inactive list due to injuries that they were dealing with.
And early on, Kansas City’s offense looked threatening, with the opening drive script being run without a hitch on a six-play, 55-yard touchdown drive that never had to face a third-down situation. Their early offensive movement looked like it would give the Steelers defense fits all day with its misdirection.
You can’t script an entire game, however, and between the second and third quarters, the Chiefs did not look so threatening. They did manage to hold the Steelers out of the end zone, limiting them only to field goal attempts, though Pittsburgh managed to get six of those, which was enough to win.
The Steelers had to travel into one of the most hostile environments in the league in order to play one of the great coaches in NFL history in games after an extra week off and come out with a victory in order to stamp their ticket to the AFC Championship Game. And they did just that.