“There’s always next year.” The mantra of the Kansas City Chiefs fan.
This year the Chiefs failed spectacularly to put up any points on a Pittsburgh Steelers team that struggled to stop what the Chiefs do best for most of the season. Sure the defense allowed Le’Veon Bell to rush for 170 yards with a ridiculous average but they stopped them in the red zone. The Chiefs could barely sniff the other side of the 50-yard line.
The truth is that the city and the fans deserve better than the ineptitude that is playoff football in Arrowhead. Where was Alex Smith’s playoff prowess? When was Travis Kelce being smart and reliable? Where was Andy Reid’s innovation and preparation? These are questions that every Chiefs fan is asking as they leave One Arrowhead Drive. In yet another promising season ending too soon here are the grades from one who was in the stands.
The first drive had the stadium pumping and jumping. This was it. It was finally going to be the Chiefs’ time to shine. Methodically and surgically Alex Smith carved up the defense of the Steelers and ended with a touchdown pass to Albert Wilson. The fans showed up and that crowd was LOUD. Then the wheels fell off. Despite opportunity after opportunity the Chiefs failed to get any rushing game going and first downs became extremely difficult.
Part of this was the result of penalties and dropped passes. Part of it was Smith’s unwillingness to push the ball down the field until he absolutely had to. I don’t believe this game falls directly on Smith’s shoulders. He didn’t lose the game, but he didn’t go out and win it either. That’s the difference between a game manager and an elite signal caller. Alex Smith cannot win the big game when his team needs him to. His team and his fans needed him to play better.
The final possession of the game gave the fans another reason to cheer. The Chiefs marched down field and though they needed a couple of fourth down conversions and penalties to keep the drive going. They scored another touchdown but a holding call on the two-point conversion pushed them back to a near impossible distance. One play doesn’t lose the game but it soon became clear that the Chiefs gave up another great opportunity in front of its loud and loyal fan base.