Chiefs Ravens Football

Kansas City Chiefs free safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepts a pass attempt in front of teammate Ben Niemann in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore.

Early in the season, the Chiefs didn’t look like themselves on the field. The league took notice when the back-to-back AFC champions started the season with a 3-4 record.

Critics were saying the league had “figured out” the Chiefs after two-plus years of dominance.

Despite all the noise, Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu says the team was able to change things by never losing sight of who it was.

“It’s all a matter of executing, taking the field with the right attitude,” Mathieu said. “The last couple months, we’ve been able to do that, and I think people have really been able to see who we are and what kind of team we are.”

Since losing their fourth game, the Chiefs have won nine of their last 10 games of the season. Heading into the playoffs as the second seed in the AFC, the Chiefs look to keep the confident attitude that’s pushed them through the second half of the season.

One of the Chiefs’ best showings of the season came against the Steelers just a few weeks ago. The Chiefs dominated on both sides of the ball, defeating the Steelers, 36-10.

Although he wasn’t on the field, tight end Travis Kelce said it was great to see his team perform like that.

“I had some fun watching us go to work because we were hitting on all cylinders,” Kelce said. “When the Chiefs are hitting on all cylinders, we have a lot of fun doing it.”

The Steelers’ 10 points tied a season low for them. It was also the second-fewest points allowed by the Chiefs all season.

Despite their performance in that game, Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said he knows the Steelers are capable of better.

“We know this is a good football team, we know this is a good offense, we know this is a great quarterback with weapons, they can run the football,” Spagnuolo said. “We’re not taking anything for granted.”

As the Steelers look to improve on that performance this week in the playoffs, Spagnuolo said despite being heavily favored, the Chiefs know they can’t overlook a highly-motivated Steelers team.

“They’re a physical football team, that’s what they are. We’ve gotta match that. You don’t match that, you’re in trouble against the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s one thing we’ve talked about. Hopefully when we get to Sunday night, our guys will bring that kind of mindset.”

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is looking to extend his career one week further, as this season is likely his last in the NFL. If they want to keep their own season alive, Mathieu said the Chiefs need to have the right mindset that’s carried them through the second half of the season.

“You’re dealing with a quarterback that has really all the experience in the world,” Mathieu said. “He’s won two championships, he’s been to the playoffs a bunch, and he has some great talent around him, as well. We’ve got our work cut out for us. I think for us, it’s all about how we start the game and then how we finish Sunday.”

The Chiefs and Steelers will square off Sunday in the Wild Card Playoffs. Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium.

Jacob Lang can be reached at jacob.lang@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowLang.

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