The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2017 season ended not only prematurely, but also bitterly, suffering an early postseason exit after falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home in the Divisional Round by a score of 45-42. The wounds are still fresh, but it’s time to relive the 2017 season that was, starting from the beginning.
Chapter X – KC Masterpiece Ignites Winning Streak
The Steelers were struggling following one of the ugliest losses in years against the Jacksonville Jaguars the week before. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions for the first time in his career in that game, and people were questioning whether or not he even wanted to play, let alone if he was able to.
Not only that, but they had also lost two of their last three games by then, even if it had sandwiched in between those two losses a rare win in Baltimore. Suffice it to say that they needed to travel into Kansas City and take care of business.
And fortunately, they did. While the score only ended up being 19-13, the Steelers really controlled most of the game. And it started off well. While they did not score on their opening drive, they were able to pin the Kansas City Chiefs in their own end. Following a penalty, a bad snap on the next play resulted in a safety. It was the second time the Steelers had scored on their opponents’ opening drive.
But things took an odd twist a play later when Pittsburgh failed to land the safety kick, the Chiefs recovering the pooch and taking possession at the Steelers’ 32. The defense did hold them to a field goal.
The offense, featuring Le’Veon Bell, responded with a 12-play touchdown drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown run as the Steelers retook a lead they would never relinquish for the remaining 44 minutes and 55 seconds.
The two teams exchanged a trio of three-and-out drives before Pittsburgh would add another field goal to extend the lead to 12-3 by halftime. The next 20-plus minutes would be rather quiet before the scoring began again.
The Chiefs added a shock touchdown off a defensive breakdown when Alex Smith hit De’Anthony Thomas for a 57-yard score. It was the first of what would prove to be many 40-plus-yard passing plays the defense would give up over the final 11 games of the regular season.
But the Steelers responded with a long touchdown of their own, Roethlisberger finding, who else, Antonio Brown, for a 51-yard score. I believe that was the Steelers’ first touchdown on a deep pass on the season as well, which would also be the first of many.
That reclaimed a two-possession lead, but the Chiefs responded with another field goal, and then Mike Tomlin called upon James Harrison to help them close out the game, and he responded, recording his lone sack of the season with the Steelers against Eric Fisher.
It was a big day for Bell, who rushed for 179 yards on 32 carries, and Brown, who had 155 receiving yards on eight receptions. The Killer Bs controlled the offense for the day, as they so often have over the past four years. And they continued to beat the Chiefs, as they now have three times in a row, and in six of their last seven meetings.
They would go on to win eight games in a row, among their longest streaks in team history, and the longest since 2004.