Heading back to the same stadium that they just suffered a lopsided defeat in just three weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers are making sure they’re focused on not coming out flat again inside Arrowhead Stadium.
On Sunday, the Steelers will match up with the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs once again inside the loud, hostile Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday Night Football on Super Wild Card Weekend. Knowing that they can’t afford to spot the Chiefs a 23-0 lead in this one, Steelers veteran cornerback Cameron Sutton says the Steelers are focused on bringing their own energy into a hostile environment, aiming to take the crowd out of it early and play with passion that was missing in the first matchup.
Doing so in such a difficult place to play like Arrowhead Stadium would go a long way towards success in the Wild Card matchup.
“Yeah, obviously it’s a great venue overall. Obviously a venue that we’ve been in this year and were able to experience, and even then, you know, that’s week-in, week-out for those guys when they playing their home venue. That’s a playoff atmosphere, that’s a playoff stadium for them too,” Sutton said to reporters Monday, according to video via Steelers.com. “We know they’ll be hype; they’re gonna be. The crowd’s gonna be into it, but our job is obviously to eliminate that factor and obviously not let that be a factor. You know what I mean?
“We [have to] come with our own energy, come with our own spark,” Sutton added. “Not let the crowd necessarily get to be a factor in the game. Just hone in, come in, just play Steeler football. And, like I said, just be ready to go from the jump.”
Being ready to go from the jump and playing Steeler football was nothing that occurred in the Dec. 26 matchup, a 36-10 Chiefs’ win that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score could have even tried to indicate.
After an opening-possession punt, the Steelers’ defense had no answers for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, as Kansas City proceeded to march 73 yards in 14 plays, capping off the opening-drive score with a two-yard Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushing touchdown. Following another Steelers’ punt, Kansas City then went 49 yards in six plays for a second touchdown, as Mahomes found Byron Pringle from five yards out.
Reserve kicker Elliott Fry then proceeded to drill a 44-yard field goal to cap off a 10-play, 54-yard drive and a 17-0 lead before the Chiefs added one more scoring drive in the first half, this time a six-play, 74-yard drive that resulted in an eight-yard pass from Mahomes to Mecole Hardman.
That first half showed how flat and lifeless the Steelers were in the matchup the day after Christmas. Now, with this game carrying do-or-die playoff implications, the Steelers must make certain they don’t come out flat again, instead focusing on bringing their own energy and trying to negate the raucous home fans inside Arrowhead.
It might be minuscule in the grand scheme of things, but at least it’s a start.