KANSAS CITY, Mo — The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs’ history goes all the way back to the first season after the AFL-NFL merger.
The Chiefs won that first matchup in Pittsburgh 31-14. The Steelers lead the all-time series 23-13.
Since Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the reins in 2004, he has helped the Steelers stay on top of this history.
Since 2006, the Steelers are 7-4 vs. the Chiefs. Big Ben is 7-3 as the starter and did not play in the 2015 23-13 loss.
In that span, Roethlisberger has torched the Chiefs: 69% completion rate, 2,520 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. But that was mostly a young Roethlisberger; this Roethlisberger is 39 years old and could potentially be playing his final game at Arrowhead Stadium.
Just two weeks ago at Arrowhead, Roethlisberger put up some pretty modest numbers; 23-35, 159 yards, 1 TD and 1 fumble. Roethlisberger’s lackluster play along with the Chiefs new-look defense both played a part in that 36-10 Chiefs win.
Roethlisberger has thrown for plenty of yards this year (3,740 yards, 15th in the NFL) as well, but he lacks in touchdowns (22) and his quarterback rating is in the gutter (35.8, 25th in the NFL).
The Steelers also rank 29th in the league in explosive plays.
Big Ben has a nice “feel good” story going with him hinting at retirement, but not officially confirming it.
His overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens to put the Steelers in the playoffs is also a sweet touch, but unless the old Ben Roethlisberger walks into Arrowhead, Sunday may look the same as the Chiefs’ Boxing Day drubbing of the Steelers.
In the Steelers’ playoff runs, it was Ben’s play along with a dynamic running game and a stout defense that got the Steelers further in the playoffs. They have shown signs of that this season with their defense and with Najee Harris silently having 1,200 rushing yards and seven TDs this season.
If Pittsburgh can keep it close and ugly, Roethlisberger could have a shot to show off why he leads the league in comebacks (6) and game-winning drives (7).