Invoice Cowher on Steelers-Chiefs NFL Wild Card Playoff recreation: ‘I anticipate this recreation to be so much nearer’

Invoice Cowher is aware of a factor or two in relation to proving individuals incorrect. An undersized faculty linebacker who went undrafted, Cowher battled and finally earned a spot on the Browns’ 53-man roster. Because the Steelers’ head coach, Cowher’s Steelers practically upset the Cowboys in Tremendous Bowl XXX as a 13.5-point underdog. A decade later, his workforce made historical past by changing into the primary sixth seed to win the Tremendous Bowl. 

The Corridor of Fame coach laughed when he was instructed of Ben Roethlisberger’s “we do not have an opportunity” feedback main as much as Pittsburgh’s wild-card recreation towards Kansas Metropolis. The sport is a rematch of the Chiefs’ 36-10 win over the Steelers again in Week 16, an end result that seemingly contributed to the Steelers’ being a 12.5-point underdog. Cowher, whose 2005 workforce upset the Colts within the playoffs after shedding soundly in Indianapolis in the course of the common season, feels that the Steelers are in a greater place having already performed the Chiefs this season. 

“You play a workforce a second time, there’s slightly familiarity with that,” Cowher mentioned this week. “I believe the familiarity actually advantages the workforce that loses. It slows down slightly bit the extra you play a workforce. That is why you see all these shut divisional video games as a result of they know one another so properly. Taking part in a workforce for a second time is like that divisional recreation. 

“I anticipate this recreation to be so much nearer.” 

Cowher feels that Pittsburgh’s prior expertise on protection ought to assist them deal with the velocity of the Chiefs’ offense, led by Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. Whereas they’ve had their struggles this season (particularly towards the run), Cowher pointed to the Steelers’ protection — particularly T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden — as a cause why he expects a extra aggressive recreation. Cowher additionally alluded to the Steelers’ younger playmakers on offense, particularly rookies Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth. Harris ran for 93 yards towards a Chiefs protection that completed thirty first within the NFL in common yards-per-carry allowed. Freiermuth was inactive for the sport as he was within the concussion protocol. 

Cowher additionally acknowledged that Roethlisberger will “need to play his greatest recreation” whereas avoiding expensive errors. Pittsburgh dedicated three turnovers of their first recreation towards Kansas Metropolis. They didn’t pressure a turnover on protection after accumulating 4 of their upset win over the Titans the earlier week. 

“They can’t flip the soccer over,” Cowher mentioned. “That’s the greatest factor, I believe, going into this recreation. Discover a method to maintain it shut going into the fourth quarter and rapidly, the strain now goes to Kansas Metropolis. And having among the best area purpose kickers within the league (Chris Boswell), among the best fourth quarter quarterbacks within the league. In the event that they get this recreation to the fourth quarter, they might have an opportunity.”

Steelers gamers, from Roethlisberger to Heyward to receiver Diontae Johnson, have embraced their role of heavy underdog throughout classes with the media. The strategy is much like the way in which Cowher dealt with related conditions throughout his 15 years because the Steelers’ coach. 

“Each recreation after I coached, I attempted to make it private,” he mentioned. “You wish to go to one thing the place you’ll be able to problem the gamers and make it private. There’s nothing extra, I’d say, nearly offensive as to be a double-digit underdog whenever you make the playoffs. Like, ‘Wow, you actually do not assume we’re that good, do you.’ That is very straightforward for Mike Tomlin to make this recreation private. I believe that is what Ben was alluding to. ‘OK, nobody is giving us an opportunity. So we do not actually have something to lose. So let’s go in there and have enjoyable and play this recreation.’

“The enjoyable half is having the ability to show individuals incorrect. To do one thing nobody thinks you are able to do. There is no best satisfaction in sports activities than doing one thing that nobody thinks you are able to do.”

In contrast to the 2005 workforce, this Steelers workforce doesn’t have loads of playoff expertise sans Roethlisberger and Heyward. Conversely, the Steelers’ opponent has a wealth of postseason expertise having performed within the final two Tremendous Bowls. That being mentioned, Cowher feels that the Steelers’ veteran leaders ought to be capable of get the message throughout to their youthful teammates about what it means to play and have success within the postseason. 

“There is a totally different tempo to the sport that occurs whenever you get to playoff time,” Cowher mentioned. “All the things type of will get amplified up one notch. In case you’ve been there earlier than, you perceive that and also you attempt to relay that to your teammates. The evening earlier than the sport, the blokes who’ve been there earlier than, who’ve been to championships and have received a Tremendous Bowl, they will discuss what it takes within the playoffs to get there, as a result of everybody begins 0-0, and now could be the time that actual soccer begins.”

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