The NFL was forced to delay the start of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Divisional playoff matchup against the Chiefs due to inclement winter weather in Kansas City. The primetime scheduling worked in the league’s favor, as the game was the highest-rated, most-watched primetime game ever in the Divisional and Wild Card rounds. That may change the NFL’s approach to playoff scheduling in coming years.
The league reportedly was going to consider shifting future games into primetime if this one drew significant ratings, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Since the Steelers’ win over the Chiefs was the top-rated primetime Divisional or Wild Card game in history, it’s likely we’ll see more of those in the future.
The game was originally scheduled to kick off at 1:05 p.m., but the league was forced to reschedule for primetime due to an impending ice storm. Kickoff was moved to 8:20 p.m. to allow time for authorities to clear the roads.
But Pittsburgh kicker Chris Boswell wouldn’t be as easily denied. The 25-year-old set an NFL playoff record with his sixth field goal of the evening, splitting the uprights with a 43-yard kick that gave the Steelers an 18-10 lead with just over 10 minutes to play.
The Chiefs responded with a methodical 13-play, 75-yard drive that featured a pair of fourth down conversions to clip the Pittsburgh lead to 18-16. A two-point attempt to a wide open Demetrius Harris appeared to have tied the game at 18-all, but a blatant holding call on left tackle Eric Fisher erased the important scoring play. Alex Smith’s do-over pass from the 12 was deflected out of the end zone, and the home team was left with 2:43 and just one timeout to find a way to erase Pittsburgh’s two-point lead.