Steelers Win AFC North, Chiefs Clinch Playoff Berth
There were a pair of important AFC NFL games played on Christmas Day that cleared up that conference’s playoff picture a bit. One result is that neither Super Bowl team from last season will even advance to the playoffs this season.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers rallied from a 10 point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-27. It was back and forth in the quarter, with the Steelers scoring two touchdowns to take a 24-20 lead. The Ravens followed that with a nice drive ending with fullback Kyle Juszczyk scoring a touchdown on a 10 yard run with 1:18 left. But Pittsburgh would not be denied. Ben Roethlisberger and company stormed down the field, and Roethlisberger threw a four yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with nine seconds left that proved to be the game winner. Brown had caught the ball at the one but managed to reach the ball across the goal line to while two defenders tried to push him back and make the tackle. The loss eliminated the Ravens (8-7) from post season contention. The Steelers improved to 10-5 and clinched the AFC North.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs had a much easier time of it, jumping off to a 21-7 first quarter lead over the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, who never got back into it. Kansas City won 33-10, eliminating the Broncos (8-7) from the post season hunt. The other team from last year’s Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers (6-9), had already been eliminated.
The Chiefs (11-4) have clinched at least a Wild Card berth, and could still win the AFC West and a first round bye in the playoffs if they win at San Diego on Sunday, and the Oakland Raiders (12-3) lose at Denver.
The Kansas City victory came 45 years to the day since the Chiefs and Miami Dolphins played what is still the longest game in NFL history. We recall that the game played on December 25th, 1971, stirred up some controversy at the time because it was played on Christmas Day. This was a first round playoff game, and it went 22 minutes and 40 seconds into overtime, or about halfway into the sixth quarter, before Miami kicker Garo Yepremian booted a 37 yard field goal to win it for the Dolphins 27-24. Kansas City running back Ed Podolak had 350 all purpose yards for the Chiefs. It was the last game played at Kansas City Municipal Stadium; the Chiefs moved into their current home, Arrowhead Stadium, the next season.
The NFL allows very little embedding of its videos but here’s a link to some YouTube highlights of that 1971 game.