Mike Tomlin (221012)
Credit: Bill Moore

It was the lowest output of scoring by any of the four winning teams Sunday. It was the lowest scoring game of the four played, but the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to pull off another postseason win to advance to the AFC Championship Sunday against the New England Patriots. This Sunday’s matchup highlights two of the NFL’s most notable marquee quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger (the Steelers) versus Tom Brady (the Patriots) in one of the season’s two final games, the AFC Championship that will decide one of the Feb. 5 Super Bowl competitors.

The Steelers’ 18-16 road win against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday and New England’s 30-16 at home victory over the Houston Texans were defensive showcases.

The Chiefs were able to prevent Pittsburgh from breaking the plains of the end zone six times, limiting them to six field goal scores worth three points each for the entire game. KC just wasn’t proficient enough offensively to score more than 16 points. Credit Pittsburgh’s D. Credit them for winning a playoff game without scoring a touchdown.

Veteran Patriots quarterback Brady withstood an onslaught of vicious assaults from Houston’s sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and linebacker Whitney Mercilus to lead the Patriots to their sixth straight AFC Championship game dating back to the 2011-2012 season. The Steelers haven’t been to an AFC chip since 2010-11. They both competed for the AFC Championship in the 2001-02 and the 2004-05 season. New England won both.

Brady, 39, has been playing since 2000. He’s won four Super Bowls and has been voted bowl MVP three times.

Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a 2004 first-round draft pick voted Rookie of the Year, turns 35 in March. At 23, he became the youngest Super Bowl winning quarterback in NFL history, leading the Steelers to victory over the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10 in his second professional season. He won another two years later at the age of 25.

Because of scheduling, New England, who played Saturday, will have an extra day to prepare. Pittsburgh’s battle with the Chiefs, originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, had to be rescheduled to Sunday night because of the ice storm in Kansas City. It climactically finished up during the 11 p.m. hour, posted live on social media by Pittsburgh’s receiver Antonio Brown, a violation of team and league rules that revealed the postgame celebratory speech of their head coach, Mike Tomlin, one of five Black NFL head coaches, to his players. It brings unnecessary attention to the Steelers.

“Let’s start our preparations,” Tomlin said in the locker room after the team’s 18-16 win over Kansas City. “We spotted them [expletives] a day-and-a-half,” referring to New England. “They played yesterday. Our game got moved to the night. We’re gonna touch down [in Pittsburgh] at 4 o’clock in the [expletive] morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for their asses.”

Locker room talk; the activity there is private. The conversations between coaches and players and players and players are solely the business of that team, but it has now become an embarrassment, an issue, a distraction to Pittsburgh. It’s not necessary for New England to know, or have it confirmed, that Pittsburgh thinks of them as [expletives] and vice versa. It’s somewhat of a betrayal, a leak of top-secret, highly confidential information, and it puts the team in a very uncomfortable, compromised position because of the self-serving interest of a player looking for online celebrity, and an abundance of “Likes” and “Shares” on social media, selfishly intending for his post to trend, to go viral.

Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, who rushed for 170 yards against KC, are dependable threats and weapons for this Steeler team. Paired with Roethlisberger, they’ve been responsible for the team getting through the regular season and the first two rounds of the postseason, the Wild Card and Division games.