Instant analysis of Chiefs’ wild-card win over Steelers

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The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, and while the final score won’t indicate it, they played far from a perfect game. There were some early struggles that the team had to overcome on offense in order to get the scoring going. It took them almost a quarter and a half to do so. After they got the first score out of the way others would follow and with relative ease. This team has only proven that they still have work to do if they’re to continue to advance in the playoffs.

Final score: Chiefs 42, Steelers 21

This game started off on the wrong foot for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to force some punts and a turnover to keep it close early on, but once the offense found their groove, there was no stopping them. The Chiefs would pull away from the Steelers beginning in the third quarter and didn’t really look back.

Weekly awards

AP Photo/Colin E. Braley

  • Chiefs Wire Game Ball: RB Jerick McKinnon

  • Harrison Butker Rookie of the Game: C Creed Humphrey

  • Casey Wiegmann Veteran of the Game: TE Travis Kelce

  • Jamaal Charles Offensive Player of the Game: QB Patrick Mahomes

  • Bobby Bell Defensive Player of the Game: LB Anthony Hitchens

  • Morten Andersen Special Teams Player of the Game: WR Mecole Hardman

  • Otis Taylor Play of the Game: Chiefs OL Nick Allegretti’s 1-yard touchdown reception.

  • Wesley Roesch Stat of the Game: 7 punts by the Steelers.

Quick-hitting observations and analysis

AP Photo/Colin E. Braley

  • Jerick McKinnon drew his first career start with the Chiefs on Sunday. With Darrel Williams dealing with a toe injury, McKinnon was leaned on in a greater capacity in the wild-card round, just as we expected. He didn’t disappoint either, recording over 100 scrimmage yards and a score.

  • Melvin Ingram made a visible impact early on in this game. He was clearly playing with some extra juice against his former team. He didn’t get a sack, but his presence was definitely felt.

  • Mecole Hardman has been playing with some renewed energy lately, especially on special teams. His 48-yard punt return was a really impressive play. Feels like he’s close to turning the corner for Kansas City.

  • Charvarius Ward had a killer day in coverage just a few weeks removed from Ja’Marr Chase’s shellacking of the KC defense. He took care of Chase Claypool with relative ease.

  • The defensive performance this week was just as dominant as it was against the Steelers in Week 16. They didn’t force as many turnovers, but they completely shut the Pittsburgh offense down for the majority of the night.

  • Patrick Mahomes did a really good job of spreading the ball around in this game, with eight players catching passes and nine players being targeted on the night. That’s been key to getting this offense and some of the star players going. As soon as some of the tertiary options get involved it opens up the rest of the offense.

  • Demarcus Robinson stepped up a bit tonight. He caught four passes on five targets for over 50 yards, including a few big third-down passes. He’s had a quiet year, but has shown up a few times now in games where the team needed a receiver to step up.

  • Travis Kelce had a historic night, becoming one of just three NFL players to catch and throw a touchdown pass in a single night. He also became just the second tight end in NFL history to have 1,000 career receiving yards.

  • Not the best game for the punt unit with Tommy Townsend averaging just 34.5 yards per punt on the night. He’s going to need to do better than that as the playoffs progress.

Up next:

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Chiefs will face the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round of the playoffs. It’s a rematch from the AFC title game last season and Week 5 of the regular season. Buffalo is fresh off a shellacking of the New England Patriots and they’re coming into Arrowhead Stadium with a lot of momentum.

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